Ghost Month: The Tale of Resurrection Mary

ghost month tms 4The tale of Resurrection Mary began a long time ago, in the 1930’s.

But first…a little bit about the setting.

Resurrection Cemetery is one of the largest cemeteries in North America. It was consecrated in 1904.

Resurrection Cemetery is located at 7201 Archer Ave., Justice, IL 60458 and is said to encompass over 540 acres with over 152,000 graves (which don’t include the crypts, which number over 5,000).

Here’s a screenshot from Google maps for reference.

Resurrection-Cemerery-Google-Map

I’ve heard the residents in the area have a nickname for it… They call it “The Resurrection Triangle” because of the strange events that seem to take place there and in the areas surrounding.

This Resurrection Triangle is home to a famous Chicago ghost, one that has been coined, “Resurrection Mary.” She has been seen by more people than any other ghost in the Chicagoland area. The lore around Resurrection Mary may be one that you are familiar with in your own neighborhood, as some of the stories are similar to classic hitchhiker ghost lore.

Most commonly, eye witnesses have spotted a blond, blue-eyed girl dressed in all white. She is so beautiful, they can’t resist the urge to offer her a ride when they see her walking on the stretch of road near Resurrection Cemetery. Sometimes she is seen with her thumb in the air or trying to wave down a car. Each time, she gives directions or the address to the cemetery. Each time, when they arrive at her destination, she vanishes into thin air.

Mary is said to appear along Archer Avenue and has also been known to appear in dance halls in the nearby area.

Have you seen Mary?

Jerry-Palus

The first report I could find of this apparition, is from 1939. A man named Jerry Palus claimed that he’d met a beautiful blond woman one night in a dance hall. They danced for hours and he noted that she was cold to the touch and didn’t talk much. At the end of the night, she asked for a ride home down Archer Avenue.

He stopped in front of the cemetery and let her out and there, in front of his eyes, she vanished.

The next day, Jerry drove to the house where Mary had said  that she lived. The woman who answered the door admitted to being Mary’s mother. When Jerry asked if he could see her daughter, the woman said no. The reason? Mary had been dead for five years.

Bill Geist, a columnist for Suburban Trib interviewed a cab driver named Ralph in January 31, 1979. The man claimed that he picked up a young woman in a white party dress and matching shoes at a small shopping center on Archer Avenue. He said she was, “a looker. A blonde. . .she was young enough to be my daughter – 21 tops.” He drove her down Archer Road until she asked him to stop the car. Here is his account.

“A couple miles up Archer there, she jumped with a start like a horse and said ‘Here! Here!’ I hit the brakes. I looked around and didn’t see no kind of house. ‘Where?’ I said. And then she sticks out her arm and points across the road to my left and says ‘There!’. And that’s when it happened. I looked to my left, like this, at this little shack. And when I turned she was gone. Vanished! And the car door never opened. May the good Lord strike me dead, it never opened.”

Geist said that Ralph was “neither an idiot nor a maniac, but rather [in Ralph’s own words] ‘a typical 52-year-old working guy, a veteran, father, Little League baseball coach, churchgoer, the whole shot.”

Resurrection-Mary-Cab-Driver-Newspaper

In 1980, a woman named Clare Rudnicki and her husband Mark were driving along Resurrection Cemetery, when she spotted Mary.

“I really didn’t think there was any ghost.  You hear these stories and these old ghost tales but it’s never happened to me.  But now I must say I think I’m changing my mind. I was just looking out the window as we were going down the street.  And on the right hand-side of the road there was a girl walking.  She was bright, very bright, like illuminating.  She was just walking very slowly.  I remember thinking oh my god it’s Resurrection Mary.  And I can feel my stomach starting to turn.  I was very frightened, I have to admit.  It did scare me.”

In October of 1989, a woman named Janet Kalal was out for an evening drive with a friend. Soon, they found themselves at Resurrection Cemetery where suddenly, a pale young woman step out in front of their car.

“There was no impact, there was no… bump to say that you know I had hit something.  But I know she ran out… and I hit her.  She was all in white and her hair and the dress were… flowing back.  It was like a stream backwards, you know away from her.  And I just saw this profile of a young woman.”

There’s a fabulous log of sightings found here.

Burned Gates

burned-cemetery-gates-resurrection-cemeteryOn Tuesday August 10, 1976, the Justice Police Department received a phone call. A man said that he was driving past the gates of the Resurrection Cemetery when he saw a girl locked inside after hours. This was strange but not impossible, as the Resurrection Cemetery is such a large place.

Patrolman Pat Homa responded to the call at 10:30 p.m. He looked for the girl with his spotlight and called to her with his loudspeaker, but no one revealed themselves. The cemetery groundskeeper was alerted. He opened the gates for the officer. A search of the cemetery grounds was conducted but it turned up nothing but gravestones, the sleeping dead undisturbed.

resurection-mary-bent-bars

However, in the officer’s search, he discovered something unnerving. When he shined his flashlight at the front cemetery gates, Pat discovered that two of the bars had been pulled apart. Embedded in the front gate were the impressions of hand prints, burned into the metal.  The scorch burns had such clear marks in the green patina of the bronze, one could actually see the skin texture seared in to the bars. The marked appeared to be made by human hands. He was astonished. Had this been the ghost of Resurrection Mary, trying to escape from her final resting place? Officer Pat Homa told his story on the paranormal television show “That’s Incredible” and lost his job over it.

People flocked to see the hand prints of Resurrection Mary. The cemetery claimed that the damage to the gate was not done by a restless spirit, but by a tractor, that had accidentally backed into the gates. With Halloween approaching and in an effort to curb the crowds, the cemetery sawed off the bars and installed a wire mesh until the bars were straightened and replaced.

resurrection-cemetery-gates

What’s even more strange, on August 12, 1976, just two days after the bars were discovered to be sent, a CB radio emergency call was received by a Cook County law enforcement. There was an apparent hit and run near the intersection of 76th St. and Roberts Road, two corners of the Resurrection Triangle.

The dispatched squad car investigating the call discovered a distraught girl in her 1965 Ford Mustang, the CB microphone was still in her hands.

Where was the body that she reported? The officer saw no bodies nearby.

The girl pointed to an area on the wet grass nearby. There was a depression in the soft greenery, appearing to be in the shape of a human body. The girl, between sobs, explained that just as the squad car turned off 79th Street and advanced in her direction, the body on the side of the road disappeared from sight.

Who is Mary?

There are many theories to the identity of Mary.

Some say that Resurrection Mary is the spirit of Mary Bregovy, a woman killed in a traffic accident in 1934 at Wacker and Lake, just before her 21st birthday. She was laid to rest in Resurrection Cemetery in her favorite white gown. A newspaper clipping of the accident is below. The article lists her name as Marie, with an ie.

marie-bregovy-killedresurrection-mary-bregovy

Mary was buried at Resurrection Cemetery in an orchid colored dress and as you can see in the newspaper clipping above, her hair was dark brown. Which leads many people to believe that Mary Bregovy is not Resurrection Mary.

There is also speculation that Resurrection Mary is the ghost of Mary Miskowski, a young woman who was killed crossing the street on her way to a Halloween party in October 1930.

Some people believe that Resurrection Mary is a young girl who was killed while hitchhiking down Archer Avenue in the early 1930’s. Rumor is that she spent the evening dancing with her boyfriend at the nearby Oh Henry Ballroom (which is now the The Willowbrook Ballroom). During the night, the lovers fought, causing Mary to storm out of the dance hall. She decided to walk home in the cold. Soon after her walk began, it abruptly ended. Mary was hit and killed by an automobile, whose driver fled the scene. Reports say this girl was buried in Resurrection Cemetery in a white dress and her dancing shoes and since that day, people have seen Mary in and around the Resurrection triangle.

Chicago author Ursula Bielski, in 1999 documented a possible connection to Anna “Marija” Norkus, who died in a 1927 auto accident while on her way home from the Oh Henry Ballroom.

Is Mary one of these women or none of these women? Some people think Mary does not and has not ever existed.

With so many eyewitness accounts, especially from credible sources, it’s hard to ignore the possibility that the ghost of a young woman does exist, reaching out in desperation to the living, refusing to accept her death.

Have you seen Mary? Do you have hitchhiker lore in your city? Tell us below!

I’ll leave you now with a few songs inspired by Resurrection Mary.

 

Oh, and if you want to do a drive through of the area, I found one on Youtube from TheMostAwesomeMan242. He drives the path that most spot Mary on. Thanks man!

Sources: here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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