7 October 2008, JellyBean @ 8:42 am

Chicago has a wealth of ghost-lore, but perhaps the most well known is the ghost of Resurrection Mary. This particular ghost, dating back to the 1930’s, has spawned many other scary stories in other places around the world.

In 1939, Jerry Palus went to the Liberty Grove and Hall near 47th and Mozart to meet young ladies. He was drawn to one in particular – a girl with light blonde hair, blue eyes and wearing a white party dress.

He plucked up his courage and approached her to ask for a dance. She agreed and they took to the dance floor. They danced for some time and Jerry commented that she felt cold to the touch. She laughed and didn’t really answer.

Jerry felt that this could be the girl of his dreams and leaned in to give her a kiss. To his delight she responded. Towards the end of the evening the girl asked Jerry if he could give her a ride home. She told him that she lived somewhere in the Bridgeport area of Chicago. So off they went.

 

YouTube Preview Image

As she got into the car she asked him whether it would be possible to ride past the large Catholic cemetary along Archer Avenue by the name of Resurrection. As they approached the main gates, the girl started acting strangely. She told Jerry to pull over and that for some reason she needed o run towards the cemetary gate and that under no circumstances should Jerry follow.

[ad]
 

Before he had time to react, the girl had jumped out the car and was running along the path towards the gate. But to Jerry’s horror, before she even reached the gate she disappeared in plain view.

Shaken, he searched around the area, but saw nothing. Sitting and thinking about it, he was in no doubt that he had seen a ghost.

On a later visit to the home of Mary, he was greeted by a woman who told him that her daughter had been dead for sometime. He even saw a picture of her sitting on a table and was convinced that she was the same girl he had been with. However, that was impossible!

Since then several men have reported picking up a young female hitchhiker, only for her to mysteriously vanish when they reached Resurrection Cemetary. According to the Chicago Tribune, “full-time ghost hunter” Richard Crowe claims to have collected “three dozen . . . substantiated” reports of Mary from the 1930s to the present.

So who is this girl and how did she come to haunt this area?

In no other Resurrection Mary sighting was her appearance and contact with the witness as sustained as in the story told by Palus, which even included an address and supposed contact with her mother which should have helped locate “Mary’s” home. Searches of the neighborhood Palus indicated failed to turn up any leads as to Mary’s identity, nor have Chicago accident reports proven of much help.

Legend has it that Mary had spent the evening dancing with her boyfriend at the Oh Henry Ballroom. Later they got into an argument and Mary stormed out. Even though it was a cold winters night, she decided it would be better to hitchhike home than to stay with her boyfriend.

She started walking down Archer Avenue, but before she went very far, she was struck by a hit-and-run driver. The driver fled the scene leaving Mary to die in the street. Later her parents came looking for her and found her broken body lying in the street.

Her parents buried her in Resurrection Cemetary, wearing her favourite white party dress and matching dancing shoes.

The hit-and-run driver was never found.

Historically there was an accident that took place in 1934. Mary Bregovy, a Polish immigrant was killed when her car collided with an elevated train support and she was thrown through the windshield.

There are some problems with this story though. The accident took place on Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago and it is unlikely that she was returning home from the Oh Henry Ballroom.

Researchers into the legend have turned up a number of other stories which may fit the bill, however none of them predate the 1930’s sightings.

Other sightings include a 1973 accoutn where Resurrection Mary is said to have fled a cab without paying. A a cab driver came into Chet’s Melody Lounge, across the street from Resurrection Cemetery, to inquire about a young lady who had left without paying her fare.

In 1976 and again in 1978, motorists report having accidentally hit a young girl outside the Resurrection Cemetary. However when they exit the car to offer assistance, the girl has mysteriously vanished. Some even said that the automobile passed directly through the girl. At that point, she would turn and disappear through the cemetery gates.

On August 10, 1976 a driver was passing by the cemetary gates at about 10:30pm. He noticed a girl standing behind the closed gates, grasping at the iron bars. The driver stopped at the enarby Justice police station to report that someone had been locked in the cemetary.

An officer was dispatched to check out the report. There was no-one there. The cemetary was deserted and dark. But he was shocked when he inspected the bars on the gate. He found that two bars had been pulled apart and there were blackened scorch marks on the green coloured bronze. Te marks appeared to have the skin texture and handprints of a young girl, but they had been burnnt into the metal with an incredible heat.

As news of this got out, many people came to see the strange marks. The cemetary officials attempted to obscure them with a blowtorch, but this made it look worse. The officials emphatically denied that a ghost had been involved, stating that a truck had accidentally backed into the gate. The workers had tried to repair the damage with a blowtorch.

This explanation however did not explain the small handprints embedded in the gate. Eventually the cemetary officials removed the bars to try and kill the story. The opposite happened and people asked what they had to hide. The bars were eventually returned to the gate, but they had been straightened and painted over. Unfortunately the scorched areas continued to defy all attempts to cover them and the twisted spots where the handprints had been impressed remained obvious until just recently, when the bars were removed for good.

In the eary 1980’s, Archer Avenue underwent some major reconstruction. It seems as though Resurrection Mary did not like this and reports of her making an appearance have all but stopped. A few people have recently claimed to have seen an apparition walking in the area, but none have reported having any contact with her.

Resurrection Mary’s story has inspired similar legends in other cities. Upstate New York has “The Girl in the Lavender Dress” which is eerily similar to the Palus story. Most places however, have hitchhiking ghosts with no names.

References:

Prairieghosts: Resurrection Mary
Ghost Research Society: Resurrection Mary
Ghost Village: Marija: The half-life of Resurrection Mary (another common variant of the legend)

Related Reading:

Be Sociable, Share!
Level Beyond is based on
WordPress platform, RSS tech , RSS comments design by Gx3.