Chicago Haunts: Ghostlore of the Windy City
Lake Claremont Press, 1998 (1997)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto
ven if you do not live in or around Chicago, many of the stories related by Ursula Bielski in
are sure to send a shiver or two down your spine. Divided into chapters based on where the ghosts can be found (e.g. roads, cemeteries, schools, houses), Bielski goes in depth into many haunting occurrences deemed real by those who witnessed them. These details of the stories behind the unexplained phenomena help make them even creepier.
ne thing that greatly surprised me about Chicago's haunted history was the number of ghosts actually found in cemeteries. I had always heard that spirits were more drawn to people, places, or objects that held a special significance in their life or point of death than to the ground in which they were interred. In fact, Chicago's most famous ghost,
, is a cemetery spook.
is said to frequent nearby dancing halls or bars where she picks up single men and asks them to drive her home. On their way up Archer Avenue, Mary will ask them to stop, or will simply disappear when they reach the gates of Resurrection Cemetery. Bielski spends numerous pages examining the different legends surrounding this
Woman in White
erhaps the scariest tale in the book is in a subchapter entitled
That Day at St. Rita's.
One All Souls Day in the early 1960s, fifteen parishioners of St. Rita Church were gathered for a prayer service. All of a sudden, the organ began playing on its own and hooded figures descended from the choir loft. When the devotees tried to flee, the doors would not open until an unseen voice intoned, '
Pray for us.
' Even writing about this story gives me the creeps.
he fact that Bielski also investigates urban legends and unsubstantiated tales of hauntings makes this different from many other ghost books. Some oft repeated urban legends are said by local teenagers to have occurred near Chicago's most haunted place, Bachelor's Grove Cemetery; and college students claim the infamous
really happened at Northern Illinois University at DeKalb. However, Bielski relates no evidence to substantiate these stories.
or an in-depth look at the city's haunted history,
proves both a concise compilation and an interesting read.
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