Archive for August, 2014

Midwestern Weird: Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery

Can strange activity in abandoned places truly be ghosts, or is our universe proving to be just that much stranger?

First you see it, then you don’t, as we head north to Chicago for a visit Bachelors Grove Cemetery.

Haunted graveyards are the grizzled old veterans of the ghost story and urban legend world. Many a tale of ghostly women and phantom lights persist, stemming from cemeteries often abandoned save for those visitors drawn by the historical significance of such places. (I wrote once before on one cemetery in particular, to pass along an experience from a reader, in this post. In addition, I’ve expressed my beliefs and hesitations on “haunted” places here and here. I believe providing this information to you, the readers, gets things out in the open and lets you know that this site isn’t only dedicated to ghost stories.

So why write about a haunted cemetery?

Cemeteries are places that are, by nature, quiet. And they should be. Cemeteries are meant to be places where people might feel comfortable laying loved ones to rest. Places where one can return to visit for peaceful reflection, maybe to remember the times when a family member or friend was still among the living. But often, as family lines fade away, or generations forget the wearing names carved into granite, the greenery encroaches, and drooping headstones become little more than scenery.

In a place so quiet, stories can spawn from anything less than silent, anything that seems out of the ordinary. The shadow from a branch waving in the sun might evolve into a woman who wanders in mourning, a hundred years past the point at which she should have stopped. Another brave soul, just hidden from view by a thicket of trees and the shadow of night and the fact that both parties are trespassing might be mistaken as some ghostly visitor.

Wikipedia’s page for Bachelor’s Grove (for the sake of quickness) has the following to say:

Besides orbs and phantom vehicles, there have been additional reports of supernatural events at the cemetery, including:

The white lady (or “white madonna”); she walks the grounds during a full moon while carrying an infant.
Phantom farmhouse; a ghostly farmhouse which is purported to shimmer, float, and then vanish, mostly reported during the 1950s. There are also reports by witnesses of the house shrinking as they approach it, then disappearing altogether.
A Farmer and his plow-horse; both victims of a plowing accident—having been dragged to their deaths into the nearby slough.
A two-headed ghost; near the same slough.
Religious monks; as late as 1984 witnesses reported seeing multiple figures dressed in monk’s robes emerging throughout the cemetery.
A black dog; witnesses in the 1990s reported seeing this manifestation at the cemetery’s entrance. It would disappear when they approached it.
The “Woman sitting on the Grave;” a notable photograph which ran in the Chicago Sun-Times, purportedly showing a transparent woman sitting on a tombstone; the apparition was not apparent at the time the photograph was shot.

Women in white, unfinished business, and mysterious photographs. While intriguing, tales of this sort aren’t unique to Bachelor’s Grove.

The house, however, seems to be, somewhat. In fact, though I was able to find other tales of disappearing buildings (here, for example) it’s truly not something I’d heard of before, other than in the story of Seven Bridges Road. Read the comments on that one, though. It seems to have a rational explanation.

Not featured among what I’ve copied above is another feature of this odd dwelling. The house, in fact, may be a trap for anyone who is able to reach it, open the door, and enter. Beware, for you may end up trapped forever.

Don’t worry, though. No one’s actually ever reached the house. It always vanishes, unfindable and unreachable for anyone who’s trying.

Funny thing is, my personal beliefs lead me to the conclusion that the phantom house of Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery has a logical explanation, because our universe is not a logical place as we see it. Something is obviously going on here, but what? And what about the dog, which no longer appears, or the monks, treading on ground that has never featured a church or monestery? Are they truly phantoms, or just the rules of the universe being broken? What’s going on that we can’t see?

I find myself quite unsatisfied, once again, because Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery and the ground it inhabits doesn’t appear to be abiding by the normal rules of how a universe should operate.

Find out more on Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery by starting at this link.


The Brown Mountain Lights

Is there a good explanation for the way they rise into the sky, or do the years of sightings point to a deeper reason?

Westward bound, yet again, for Brown Mountain, and the lights named for them.

To be honest, I debated whether I should bother covering this topic, since it’s been done probably countless times before, in its status as a staple NC happening. It is, however, a part of the weird folklore in North Carolina and the world. I felt it deserved a place in the admittedly random and disjointed narrative that I’ve tried to make here.

If you haven’t heard of what exactly the Brown Mountain Lights are, I’ll cover that, because knowing what exactly goes on is necessary to really examining them.

On very dark nights, with all headlights and flashlights and lanterns covered or cut off, the lights will appear. First they slide into view, and begin to move upward, into the sky, where they hover.

Then they fade.

And that’s it.

As captivating as the Brown Mountain lights are to people, how they work is very simple. They come from no visible origin, rise up slowly, and then they’re gone. It’s a nice, spooky story.

Legends of their origins abound. The one I heard from my dad was that the lights were lanterns in a desperate search by the wives of dead warriors, still without closure so many years later. And of course, there are legends of fierce battles and people long before us and long gone now. Perhaps, some believe, they are UFOs, the nature of which may be completely alien (since, of course, “UFO” does not necessarily mean extraterrestrial, despite having that connotation). There is a movie, Alien Abduction, that follows that story exactly.

Skeptical explanations are sure to follow. Cars, trains, some perfectly regular, normal cause, all of which are logical, and may be true.

Whether the lights are mourning ghosts, the oddest aliens in the universe, or just evidence of humanity, the reality is that they’re there, and no one has definitively explained them yet, to my knowledge.

Figuring it out is a fun mystery, and they could probably be called a “must see” if you’re in the area. A cool story, maybe nothing more.

But I’m not really satisfied with that. The Brown Mountain lights are almost teasing us. Taunting us to come closer and really figure them out.

Maybe, one day, someone will.