With Halloween just four days away, I admit that I like hearing a good ghost story. I suppose it’s the unknown or the unexplained that intrigues me.
The movie “The Amityville Horror” was based on alleged paranormal activity that took place in this town in New York state. But I have also read accounts that much of what appeared in the book and film did not happen. Most of so-called paranormal activity can be explained.
I guess I’m like anyone else. A little bit of mystery can be exciting. For instance, I enjoyed watching the 2013 movie “The Conjuring” about malicious spirits who haunted a family and their home in Rhode Island in the early 1970s. I suppose some of these events can be explained. On the other hand, there is a part of me that would like to believe that there are events that happen that defy explanation.
We know old homes make noises. Floors sometimes creak and a wind can create strange sounds from the attic. Doors sometimes can open or close in an old home because the foundation underneath pitches at certain times of the year. An explanation can be provided for most strange occurrences.
But this is time of the year when things go bump in the night. Soon witches and assorted goblins will be walking door-to-door with their bags out looking for a treat. That’s when these tales have their most appeal. Feature stories will appear in newspapers or a piece can be viewed on TV in the next coming days.
That includes our newspaper. Earlier this month, I attended a program that featured author and parapsychologist Ursula Bielski, who has written several books on the supernatural. Her local appeal comes from the fact that the authors hails from Chicago’s North Side. Her latest book focuses on Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, the ancient burial grounds in the southwest suburbs.
Bielski believes that there are unnatural forces present at the cemetery and recalled an evening when she toured the area with a friend who had connections to allow her to come along. The author admits that the two should not have been touring the cemetery at night because the land is owned by the Cook County Forest Preserves. The cemetery is closed during the evening, but she admits the two were adventurous and their curiosity took over.
According to Bielski, the two traveled along paths and would occasionally see bright lights that seemed to follow them. When they would get closer, the lights would disappear, according to Bielski. But what frightened the author was that they were unable for hours to find their way out of the cemetery. The fact they were lost was unnerving because her guide knew his way through the cemetery. He had walked the path numerous times with no difficulties, according to Bielski. But that evening they reportedly saw these bright lights and became disoriented and lost.
BIelski told an audience over 90 people at the Green Hills Library in Palos Hills that she has heard other accounts from people who have seen these bright lights that suddenly disappear when they grew closer. They also told her that they also were lost for hours. Bielski said she was terrified and believes that the bright lights were the result of a malicious spirit that haunts the cemetery.
My impression is that some of these sightings could be explained. It could have been someone playing a hoax on these cemetery travelers. On the other hand, you always wonder. While these tales were interesting, I knew why so many people were at the library that evening. They wanted to hear about one ghost in particular – none other than Resurrection Mary.
The legends and stories about Resurrection Mary are popular because of its local origins. Several girls and women have been called Resurrection Mary. One popular account is that of Marija “Anna” Norkus, 12, who lived in Chicago’s Garfield Ridge neighborhood. She died about six weeks before her 13th birthday. She reportedly loved to dance and begged her father to take along dancing to O Henry’s Ballroom (now the Willowbrook Ballroom). Her father relented and brought her daughter and some other people along.
Reportedly, several people had too much to drink and on the way home, the impaired driver collided with another car and Anna fell out and was crushed by one of the vehicles. She died on July 20, 1927. Reportedly, people have seen the blonde-haired girl along Archer Avenue after her death. Mary Bregory, from Chicago’s Back of the Yards neighborhood, also reportedly died in a car crash after a night of dancing and has been referred to as Resurrection Mary.
A photo of Anna Norkus was featured at Bielski’s library presentation, along with the gates at Resurrection Cemetery. The cemetery gates in the photo along Archer shows a blackened section which Bielski said was burned and fingerprints, allegedly from Resurrection Mary, could be seen.
I’ve heard this story often that included a segment on “That’s Incredible” on ABC-TV in which a truck driver saw a girl grabbing the cemetery gates. He stopped and walked up to the gates and the girl disappeared. According to the TV program, the truck driver went to the Justice police. An officer and the truck driver returned and they saw the burned portion of the gates with the fingerprints, according to the show.
That’s why Resurrection Mary continues to be discussed to this day. A story on Anna Norkus, for instance, appears in papers at the time of her death.
I guess we all want to believe in something mystical and scary at this time of the year. That’s why the legend of Resurrection Mary continues to live on.
Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.