5900 W Midlothian Turnpike
About twenty-four miles south and slightly west of Chicago, down a trail off of the Midlothian Turnpike on the south side of the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve, sits the small Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery. It’s the oldest cemetery in all of Cook County, with its first burial occurring around 1834.
Although there are still about eighty graves here, the headstones are sparse due to decades of vandalism and poor upkeep. Sections of chain-link fence still wrap around the perimeter and a murky quarry pond sits to the northwest. Small toys and trinkets litter the ground beside the gravestones of a couple of infants.
The super creepy atmosphere is only completed by dozens of ghostly sightings. From a lady in a white dress who shows up in photographs to a disappearing farm house and more, this little graveyard makes for quite a haunting hotspot.
Very much so. Countless visitors have reported spooky sights, sounds, and other experiences ever since the 1960s. It was then that most of the original tombstones were defaced or toppled, some of the coffins even being dug up, which was said to violently disturb the spirits of those buried here.
To this day, several of those riled up spirits and others still make an appearance in this abandoned little boneyard.
Also known as the “Woman in White” or the “White Lady”, she first appeared in a photograph taken by a group of paranormal investigators exploring the cemetery in 1979. She was described as wearing a hooded robe and carrying a baby in her arms.
In later sightings, she wore only a white dress and often wandered the graveyard without the baby. Legend says she’s looking for someone or something though it’s never specified who or what.
Her most famous appearance was in a 1991 infrared photograph in which she sits on a headstone at the north side of the cemetery, gazing out at the fence and trees beyond. It was taken by the Oak Lawn Ghost Research Society and became quite popular at the time.
Some say that the uncanny clarity and quality of the photo indicate that it was a hoax, but it was far from the last capture or sighting of the Madonna.
Also known as the “Phantom Farmhouse” and the “Magic House”, another common sighting is a white one-story Victorian house with a porch swing and a picket fence around it. The house usually appears transparent with yellow-orange light in its windows that flickers as if from a lit candle.
Many reports say that it shrinks away and eventually disappears when approached, though a legend remains warning that if you do enter it you’ll never be able to return.
Several records show various houses standing on or near the grounds in the past, though none of them resemble the Disappearing House exactly. Whoever’s house it was, it continues to be spotted in the cemetery to this day.
On occasion, a strange mist is often seen around the building as it fades in or out of view.
In 1870, a farmer was plowing a nearby field with his horse when the animal became startled. The farmer was caught off guard and having become tangled in the reins was then dragged as the horse plunged into the adjacent pond in which they both drowned.
The ghostly figures of both can be seen on the surface of the pond beside the cemetery as well as 143rd Street just beyond it.
The ghost of a large black-and-tan dog is also sometimes seen sitting quietly at the cemetery’s entrance as well as running down the path where it inevitably fades into thin air.
Balls of blue and red light have been seen at various locations along the path and in the cemetery, hovering and dancing around. Sometimes, they are said to make intelligent sorts of movements back and forth.
The settlement of Bachelor’s Grove began when English, Irish, and Scottish immigrants arrived from New York, Vermont, and Connecticut in the late 1820s. This included the prominent Batchelder family for whom the place was originally named.
‘Batchelder’ was often butchered as ‘Batchelor’ as seen on a couple of maps remaining from that time.
Then in 1833, Stephen H. Rexford, Eli B. Williams, and a couple of other single men calling themselves ‘The Bachelors’ also moved in. And so ‘Batchelor’s Grove’ became ‘Bachelor’s Grove’.
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery first appeared in an 1864 record of land sale by Edward M. Everden to Frederick Schmidt. The document specified the one acre of land to be set aside and its use as a graveyard continued.
When Schmidt sold the property again in 1909, a description of the cemetery and instructions for it were also included. Sometime after that, it fell under the charge of the Fulton family, who had already buried two of their own in that ground by 1906 – including one-year old Emma Fulton.
Up until the 1950s, all was well and good and rather quiet in the graveyard. Then the Midlothian Turnpike was rerouted to 143rd Street, leaving Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery quite a ways off the beaten path. Teenagers began using it as a “lover’s lane” and a hideaway to drink underage and otherwise get up to mischief.
This led to wanton vandalism over the next two decades. Many stones and monuments were toppled, broken, defaced, and even stolen. Some coffins were even dug up and ransacked.
In 1975, the cemetery’s last individual owner, Clarence Fulton, approached the Cook County Board about taking charge of it. He wanted their help to restore and maintain the grounds, especially after the last fifteen years of careless destruction.
Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery was officially County property in 1976, with maintenance deferred to their Forest Preserve District which also implemented police patrols after sunset to deter and stop more vandals.
As the sign on the post by the trail’s head at the Turnpike reads, the cemetery is open from sunrise to sunset. After dark, it is heavily patrolled by police to deter vandals and vagrants at the request of Cook County.
During the daylight hours, feel free to bring your phone and take all the pictures and videos that you like. See if you too can catch any of the numerous spirits and other anomalies that show up here.