Monday, May 7, 2012

Haunted Chicago

There are a number of American cities that make the claim of being the "Most Haunted". But in many peoples opinions Chicago comes out far ahead of all the others. As far as ghosts per capita, no other city can boast even close to the number of ghosts found in Chicago.
    On this post you will not only find haunted places, you will also learn about major disasters that occured here, which helped contribute to the hauntings


    First stop on this list is Bachelor's Grove Cemetery
Located near the southwest suburb of Midlothian.
    This small cemetery is said to be the most haunted in the region. Over the years, the cemetery has been cursed with more than 100 documented reports of paranormal phenomena, from actual apparitions to glowing balls of light.
    The history of Bachelor’s Grove has been somewhat shadowy over the years but most historians agree that it was started in the early part of the 1800s. Legend has it that the cemetery got its name because only men were buried here, however this is not true it was actually named after a family who settled in the area.
    The cemetery itself has a much stranger history or at least a more mysterious one. The land was apparently first set aside to be used as a burial ground in 1844, when the first recorded burial took place here, that of Eliza (Mrs. Leonard H.) Scott. The land had been donated by the property owner, Samuel Everden, and it was named “Everden” in his honor. The last burials to take place are believed to be that of Laura M. McGhee in 1965 and Robert E. Shields, who was cremated and buried in the family plot here in 1989.
    The last caretaker of the cemetery was a man named Clarence Fulton, whose family were early settlers in the township. According to Fulton, Bachelor’s Grove was like a park for many years and people often came here to fish and swim in the adjacent pond. Families often visited on weekends to care for the graves of the deceased and to picnic under the trees.
    Problems began in and around the cemetery in the early 1960s. When vandals first discovered the cemetery, and began to wreak havoc on the place. Gravestones were knocked over and destroyed, sprayed with paint, broken apart and even stolen. Graves were opened and caskets removed. The bones of the lost souls were even strewn about the cemetery.

Was the haunting first caused by these disturbances? Most believe so, but others cite another source for the activity. Near the small pond that borders the cemetery, forest rangers and cemetery visitors have reportedly found the remains of chickens and other small animals that have been slaughtered and mutilated in a ritualistic fashion. Officers that have patrolled the woods at night have reported seeing evidence of black magic and occult rituals in and around the graveyard. In some cases, inscriptions and elaborate writings have been carved in and painted on trees and grave markers. This has led many to believe that the cemetery has been used for occult activities.
Today, the cemetery is overgrown with weeds and is surrounded by a high, chain-link fence, although access is easily gained through the holes that trespassers have cut into it. The cemetery sign is long since gone.
The first thing noticed by those who visit here is the destruction. Tombstones seem to be randomly scattered about, no longer marking the resting places of those whose names are inscribed upon them. Many of the stones are missing, lost forever and perhaps carried away by thieves. These macabre crimes gave birth to legends about how the stones of the cemetery move about under their own power. The most disturbing things to visitors, though, are the trenches and pits that have been dug above some of the graves, as vandals have attempted to make off with souvenirs from those whose rest they disturb.
 Just beyond the rear barrier of the cemetery is a small, stagnant pond. This pond, while outside of the graveyard, is still not untouched by the horror connected to the place. One night in the late 1970s, two Cook County Forest Preserve officers were on night patrol near here and claimed to see the apparition of a horse emerge from the waters of the pond. The animal appeared to be pulling a plow behind it that was steered by the ghost of an old man. The vision crossed the road in front of the ranger’s vehicle, was framed for a moment in the glare of their headlights, and then vanished into the forest. The men simply stared in shock for a moment and then looked at one another to be sure that had both seen the same thing. They later reported the incident and since that time, have not been the last to see the old man and the horse.
Little did the rangers know, but this apparition was actually a part of an old legend connected to the pond. It seems that in the 1870s, a farmer was plowing a nearby field when something startled his horse. The farmer was caught by surprise and became tangled in the reins. He was dragged behind the horse and it plunged into the small pond. Unable to free himself, he was pulled down into the murky water by the weight of the horse and the plow and he drowned.
It is along this deserted road where other strange tales of the cemetery take place. One of these odd occurrences is the sighting of the "phantom farm house". It has been seen appearing and disappearing along the trail for several decades now. The most credible thing about many of the accounts is that they come from people who originally had no idea that the house shouldn’t be there at all.
The house has been reported in all weather conditions, both in the daytime and at night. There is no historical record of such a house existing here but the descriptions of it rarely vary. Each person claims it to be an old frame farm house with two-stories, painted white, with wooden posts, a porch swing and a welcoming light that burns softly in the window. Popular legend states that should you enter this house, though, you would never come back out again. As witnesses approach the building, it is reported to get smaller and smaller until it finally just fades away, like someone switching off an old television set. No one has ever claimed to set foot on the front porch of the house.
Also from this stretch of trail come reports of "ghost lights". One such light that has been reported many times is a red, beacon-like orb that has been seen flying rapidly up and down the trail to the cemetery. The light is so bright, and moves so fast, that it is impossible to tell what it really looks like. Most witnesses state that they have seen a "red streak" that is left in its wake.
<----When this picture was taken no one was sitting on the headstone. Could this be a picture of the Madonna of Bachelor's Grove? Many people seem to think so.
There have also have been many sightings of ghosts and apparitions within Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery itself. The most frequently reported spirit, though, is known by a variety of names from the "Madonna of Bachelor’s Grove" to the "White Lady" to the affectionate name of "Mrs. Rogers". Legend has it that she is the ghost of a woman who was buried in the cemetery next to the grave of her young child. She is reported to wander the cemetery on nights of the full moon with an infant wrapped in her arms. She appears to walk aimlessly, with no apparent direction and completely unaware of the people who claim to encounter her. There is no real evidence to say who this woman might be but, over the years, she has taken her place as one of the many spirits of this haunted burial ground.

Our next stop is  Archer Avenue where we'll find the story of Resurrection Mary. The reports of this girl began in the middle 1930’s and started when motorists passing by Resurrection Cemetery began claiming that a young woman was attempting to jump onto the running boards of their automobiles. 
Not long after, the woman became more mysterious, and much more alluring. The strange encounters began to move further away from the graveyard and closer to the O Henry Ballroom, which is now known as the Willowbrook. She was now reported on the nearby roadway and sometimes, inside of the ballroom itself. On many occasions, young men would meet a girl at the ballroom, dance with her and then offer her a ride home at the end of the evening. She would always accept and offer vague directions that would lead north on Archer Avenue. When the car would reach the gates of Resurrection Cemetery, the young woman would always vanish.
More common were the claims of motorists who would see the girl walking along the road. They would offer her a ride and then witness her vanishing from their car. These drivers could describe the girl in detail and nearly every single description precisely matched the previous accounts. The girl was said to have light blond hair, blue eyes and was wearing a white party dress. Some more attentive drivers would sometimes add that she wore a thin shawl, or dancing shoes, and that she had a small clutch purse.

Others had even more harrowing experiences. Rather than having the girl vanish for their car, they claimed to actually run her down in the street. They claimed to see a woman in a white dress bolt in front of their car near the cemetery and would actually describe the sickening thud as she was struck by the front of the car. When they stopped to go to her aid, she would be gone. Some even said that the automobile passed directly through the girl. At that point, she would turn and disappear through the cemetery gates.
    But who is Mary? Most researchers agree that the most accurate version of the story concerns a young girl who was killed while hitchhiking down Archer Avenue in the early 1930’s. Apparently, she had spent the evening dancing with a boyfriend at the O Henry Ballroom. At some point, they got into an argument and Mary (as she has come to be called) stormed out of the place. Even though it was a cold winter’s night, she thought, she would rather face a cold walk home than another minute with her boorish lover.
She left the ballroom and started walking up Archer Avenue. She had not gotten very far when she was struck and killed by a passing automobile. The driver fled the scene and Mary was left there to die.
 Over the years, there have been many sightings and encounters with the ghost alleged to be “Resurrection Mary”. Dozens of young men have told of picking up the same girl, or meeting her at the ballroom, only to have her disappear from their car. Perhaps the most believable encounter with Mary took place in 1939 and involved a young man named Jerry Palus.
The majority of the reports seem to come from the cold winter months, like the account passed on by a cab driver. He picked up a girl who was walking along Archer Avenue one night in 1941. It was very cold outside, but she was not wearing a coat. She jumped into the cab and told him that she needed to get home very quickly. She directed him along Archer Avenue and a few minutes later, he looked back and she was gone. He realized that he was passing in front of the cemetery when she disappeared.
perhaps the strangest account of Mary was the one that occurred on the night of August 10, 1976. This event has remained so bizarre after all this time because on this occasion, Mary did not just appear as a passing spirit. It was on this night that she left evidence behind!
A driver was passing by the cemetery around 10:30 that night when he happened to see a girl standing on the other side of the gates. He said that when he saw her, she was wearing a white dress and grasping the iron bars of the gate. The driver was considerate enough to stop down the street at the Justice police station and alert them to the fact that someone had been accidentally locked in the cemetery at closing time. An officer responded to the call but when he arrived there was no one there. The graveyard was dark and deserted and there was no sign of any girl.
But his inspection of the gates, where the girl had been seen standing, did reveal something. The revelation chilled him to the bone! He found that two of the bars in the gate had been pulled apart and bent at sharp angles. To make things worse, at the points on the green-colored bronze where they had been pried apart were blackened scorch marks. Within these marks was what looked to be skin texture and handprints that had been seared into the metal with incredible heat.
The marks of the small hands made big news and curiosity-seekers came from all over the area to see them. In an effort to discourage the crowds, cemetery officials attempted to remove the marks with a blowtorch, making them look even worse. Finally, they cut the bars off and installed a wire fence until the two bars could be straightened or replaced.
During the 1970’s and 1980’s, Mary sightings reached their peak. People from many different walks of life, from cab drivers to ministers said they had picked her up and had given her rides. It was during this period that Resurrection Cemetery was undergoing some major renovations and perhaps this was what caused her restlessness.
During the 1990’s, reports of Mary slacked off, but they have never really stopped altogether. They continue to occur today and while many of the stories are harder to believe these days, as the tales of Mary have infiltrated our culture to such a degree that almost anyone with an interest in ghosts has heard of her, some of the stories still appear to be chillingly real.
 To this day no one really knows who Mary really is or if thats even her real name, however maybe thats how she prefers it to be.

Next up is the neighborhood of Beverly where we'll learn about the Irish Castle.
    The house was built in 1886 for Robert Givens, who requested that it resemble the ancient estates of his native Ireland. Legend has it that the house was built for Givens' bride-to-be but she died before she could live there and as time passed, it was owned by a manufacturer, a doctor and a girl's school before becoming the church in 1942. The Commission for Chicago Landmarks has named the house Chicago's only castle since the Potter Palmer Castle was torn down in the 1950's.
    The house was sold to the Unitarian Church in 1942 and in the late 1950's, new additions were constructed for classrooms. Later, they planned to tear down the castle altogether for a new building, but these plans were discarded in 1972 and the church remains in the old castle today.
    The haunting here is said to be caused by a previous occupant from the time when the castle was the Chicago Female College. According to the story, a young girl became ill with a serious case of influenza and died in the early 1930's. The ghost was first encountered in the 1960's by a church custodian who came upon a young girl in a long dress standing in one of the rooms. The two of them chatted for a few minutes and the young girl remarked that the place had changed much since she had lived there. The custodian left the room and then suddenly recalled that the church had been in the building for more than 20 years... the young girl couldn't possibly have lived there!
    She ran back to the room, but the girl had vanished! She then searched the entire building, only to find the doors and windows all locked. She even looked outside and discovered that a fresh layer of snow now blanketed the ground... and no footprints led either in or out of the church.
    Many believe that the young girl's fatal illness, and her confused state because of it, led to her spirit lingering behind.... a fact that can be testified to by the church's pastor. In 1994, shortly after she was installed at the church, she saw two small arms embrace her husband's waist. Her husband claimed to feel nothing.    The ghost is also said to appear in the form of what appears to be a candle from outside of the building. The light has been observed passing by the windows and floating up the staircase... while no one was in the castle.
    Apart from these occasional visual hauntings, the ghost sometimes makes itself known through unexplainable sounds. Occupants of the building have described it as a "jingling" sound, like the tinkling of glasses and silverware at a dinner party. A former pastor, named Rev. Roger Brewin, stated that he often tried to track down the source of these mysterious sounds but he never could. He said that they seemed to come from everywhere... and yet nowhere... all at the same time!

ROSEHILL CEMETERY is our next stop of the haunted Chicago tour.
Rosehill Cemetery began in 1859, taking its name from a nearby tavern keeper named Roe, and the place becoming "Roes Hill". In time, the name was slightly altered and became "Rosehill". The cemetery is the oldest and the largest and in Chicago and serves as the final resting place of more than 1500 notable Chicagoans, including a number of Civil War generals, mayors, former millionaires, local celebrities and early founders of the city..... there are also a number of deceased Chicagoans who are not some peacefully at rest and they serve to provide the cemetery with its legends of ghosts and strange happenings.
What many don't realize is that Rosehill was not the first cemetery created publicly in the city. The first was located where Lincoln Park can now be found. It was disbanded the graves were moved to other sites, thus creating a cemetery at Rosehill.
Perhaps the most famous ghostly site is the mausoleum that belongs to Charles Hopkinson, a real estate tycoon from the middle 1800's. In his will, he left plans for his mausoleum to serve as a shrine to the memory of he and his family. When he died in 1885, a miniature cathedral was designed to serve as the tomb. Construction was started and then halted when the property owners behind the Hopkinson site took the family to court. The claimed that the cathedral tomb would block the view of their site. The case proceeded all of the way to the Illinois Supreme Court, which ruled that the other family had no say over what sort of monument the Hopkinson family built and that they should have expected that something could block the view of their site. Shortly after, construction on the site continued.
    Despite the fact that the courts ruled in the favor of Hopkinson, it is said that on the anniversary of the real estate investor's death, a horrible moaning sound can be heard coming from the tomb, followed by what appears to be sound of rattling chains.
    Ghost lore is fill of tales of the deceased returning from the grave to protest the way they were laid to rest.... and Rosehill Cemetery is no exception to this sort of legend. In October of 1995, one of the grounds keepers at the cemetery reported that he had seen a woman on the grounds of the cemetery. She had been standing next to a tree near the wall that shielded the cemetery from Peterson Avenue. The man said that he got out of his truck and approached the woman. The cemetery was closed at the time and he was going to tell her that she had to leave. When he got close to her, he realized that the woman, who was dressed in some sort of flowing garment, seemed to be floating off of the ground. Then, she became a mist and slowly disappeared. The grounds keeper rushed to the cemetery office to report the incident.
Strangely, the next day, a woman from Des Plaines called the cemetery office and requested that a marker be placed on the grave of her aunt. The grave had previously been an unmarked one but the aunt had appeared to her in a dream the night before and told her that she wanted her grave marked, so that she could be remembered. The grave was located in an old family plot and staff members went out to the site to verify the location and to see what type of marker was needed.
    They were amazed to find that the site was the exact spot where the apparition had been seen the night before!
The stone was ordered and the apparition was never seen again.
    The Rosehill Cemetery Mausoleum was proposed in 1912 and the cemetery appealed to the elite businessmen of the city for the funds to begin construction. These men were impressed with the idea and enjoyed the thought of entire family rooms in the mausoleum that could be dedicated to their families alone and could be decorated to their style and taste.
    One of the subscribers was John G. Shedd, the president of Marshall Field from 1909 to 1926 and the man who donated the wonderful Shedd Aquarium to Chicago. Shedd's family room is one of the most beautiful portions of the building. The chapel outside the room features chairs that are carved in images depicting shells and sea horses and the window inside bathes the room with a blue haze that makes the place appear to be under water. For this window, Shedd commissioned the artisan Louis Comfort Tiffany and made him sign a contract that said he would never create another window like it.
    There have been no ghost stories associated with John Shedd, but there are others entombed in the structure who may not have found the peace that Shedd found. Two of them men also laid to rest in the building are Aaron Montgomery Ward and his bitter business rival, Richard Warren Sears. One has to wonder if wither of these men could rest in peace with the other man in the same structure.... but it is the ghost of Sears who has been seen walking through the mausoleum at night.
    The business pioneer has been spotted, wearing a top hat and tails, leaving the Sears family room and walking the hallways from his tomb to that of Ward's.
Perhaps the rivalry that plagued his life continues on after death.....
    The last ghostly tale associated with Rosehill is perhaps the most tragic and romantic story. This tale involves a monument which was moved from the Old City Cemetery to Rosehill. It is the grave monument of Frances Pearce. It is sort of lost amongst all of the other monuments at Rosehill, but if you can find it, it is well worth the search. The monument depicts the life-sized images of Frances and her infant daughter, reclining on top of the stone. The figures are encased in one of the glass boxes that are often seen in Chicago, which are designed to protect the easily damaged marble from the elements.
    Frances was married to a man named Horatio Stone in the middle 1800's. They were apparently very much in love and lived a happy life together until suddenly, France died at the age of only 20 in 1854. Four months later, her infant daughter followed her to the grave. Horatio was nearly destroyed by these events and he commissioned a memorial statue of Frances and their daughter to be placed at their mutual grave site in Lincoln Park. Later, the graves and the monument were moved to Rosehill.
    According to legend, on the anniversary of their deaths, a white haze fills the glass box that has been placed over the monument as the mother and daughter reach out from the other side to the husband and father who was left behind.

Next up is MICHIGAN AVENUE where you'll find the Water Tower.
THE CHICAGO WATER TOWER is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city and according to some stories, a very haunted place as well!
Without a doubt, the most tragic event to take place in the history of Chicago was the Great Fire of 1871. The blaze swept through the city, leaving more than 300 people dead, 100,000 homeless and a swath of devastation that was four miles long and two-thirds of a mile wide.
    Standing among the ruins of the city was the Water Tower. It had been built in 1869 from pale Lemont limestone and loomed 154 feet above the streets of the now-blackened city. Some believe that the tower is haunted by the ghost of a man who perished there during the fire. This heroic worker stayed behind as the fire came closer, manning the pumps instead of fleeing for his life. Just before the flames reached him, he hanged himself in the structure rather than be burned to death. According to legend, tourists and locals often glimpse the shadowy figure of a hanging man through the tower's upstairs windows. Recently, a group of tourists were greeted with this sight (much to their shock) and they flagged down a passing police officer... who also saw the same thing!
    The tower is located in an area of the city that is known as "Streeterville", named for the pioneer Captain Streeter. He originally laid claim to all of the land in the area and was enraged when it was taken from him by the fledgling state of Illinois. Streeter cursed the property and strangely, odd incidents have occurred here, and at the nearby Hancock Building, ever since!

Next we read about one of the most brutal events in all of Chicago history. The Fort Dearborn Massacre.
    Chicago began as nothing but empty wilderness and open prairie. It first appeared on maps of the region in 1684 as “Chekagou”, which literally means “wild onion”. Despite these inauspicious beginnings, it became home to a trading post owned by Jean Baptist Point du Sable, a French Canadian trapper in 1779. He stayed along the Chicago River until 1800, before selling the establishment to Jean Lalime. As American’s spread further west, there was talk of a military garrison being established at Chicago as early as 1795. It finally came about in 1803 under the command of Captain John Whistler. He brought with him 40 men and they built Fort Dearborn.
    The fort was a simple stockade of logs that were placed on end, sharpened at the top and then planted firmly into the ground. The outer stockade was a solid wall with a gated entrance. There was also a secret underground entrance that led beneath the north wall to the river. Inside of the fort was a parade ground, officer’s quarters, troop’s barracks, a guard house and an ammunition magazine.
    In 1804, a man named John Kinzie settled in the region and bought out the property of Jean Lalime. Over the next few years, Kinzie became known as the self-appointed civilian leader of the region, trading and dealing with the local Native American population. He encouraged close ties with the Potawatomi Indians and even sold them liquor, which created tension with the other white settlers. Kinzie would figure prominently in the events that were still to come.
    In 1810, Captain Whistler was replaced at Fort Dearborn by Captain Nathan Heald, an experienced soldier, who also brought with him Lieutenant Linus T. Helm, another officer with experience on the frontier. Helm soon married the step-daughter of John Kinzie. In addition to she and Heald’s wife, there were other women now at the fort as well, all wives of the men stationed there. Within two years, there were 12 women and 20 children at Fort Dearborn.
    The first threat came to the fort with the War of 1812, a conflict that aroused unrest with the local Indian tribes, namely the Potawatomi and the Wynadot. The effects of the war brought many of the Indian tribes into alliance with the British for they saw the Americans as invaders into their lands. After the British captured the American garrison at Mackinac, Fort Dearborn was in great danger. Orders came from General William Hull that Heald should abandon the fort and leave the contents to the local Indians.
    Unfortunately, Heald delayed in carrying out the orders and soon, the American troops had nowhere to go. The unrest among the Indians brought a large contingent of them to the fort and they gathered in an almost siege-like state. The soldiers began to express concern over the growing numbers of Indians outside and Heald realized that he was going to have to bargain with them if the occupants of Fort Dearborn were going to safely reach Fort Wayne.
    On August 12, Heald left the fort and held council with the Indians outside. By this time, it was estimated that 500 of them were encamped at the fort. Heald proposed to the chiefs that he would distribute the stores and ammunition in the fort to them in exchange for safe conduct to Fort Wayne. The chiefs quickly agreed and conditions were set to abandon the stockade.
    Heald returned to the fort and here, was confronted by his officers. Alarmed, they questioned the wisdom of handing out guns and ammunition that could easily be turned against them. Heald reluctantly agreed with them and the extra weapons and ammunition were broken apart and dumped into an abandoned well. In addition, the stores of whiskey were dumped into the river. Needless to say, this was observed by the Indians outside and they too began making plans that differed from those agreed upon with Captain Heald.
    On August 14, a visitor arrived at the fort in the person of Captain William Wells. He and 30 Miami warriors had managed to slip past the throng outside and they appeared at the front gates of the fort. Wells was a frontier legend among early soldiers and settlers in the Illinois territory. Captured by Indians as a child, he was adopted into the family of Little Turtle, the famous war chief of the Miami. Later, Wells served as a scout under General “Mad Anthony” Wayne and was currently serving as an Indian agent at Fort Wayne. He was also the uncle of Captain Heald’s wife and after hearing of the evacuation of Fort Dearborn, and knowing the hostile fervor of the local tribes, headed straight to the fort to assist them in their escape.
    Late on the evening of the 14th, another council was held between Heald, Wells and the Indians. Heald was told that, despite the anger over the destruction of the ammunition and the whiskey, the garrison would still be conducted to Fort Wayne. In turn, Heald was told that he had to abandon the fort immediately. By this time, Heald had more than just his men and their families to think of. John Kinzie and the other nearby settlers had also come to the fort for protection. Throughout the night, wagons were loaded for travel and reserve ammunition was distributed, amounting to about 25 rounds per man.
    Early the next morning, the procession of soldiers, civilians, women and children left the fort. The infantry soldiers led the way, followed by a caravan of wagons and mounted men. The rear of the column was guarded by a portion of the Miami who had accompanied Wells. They, along with Wells himself, did not believe the promises made by the other tribes and they had their faces painted for war.
    The column traveled to the an area where 16th Street and Indiana Avenue are now located. There was a sudden milling about of the scouts at the front of the line and suddenly a shout came back from Captain Wells. The Indians were attacking, he cried! A line of Potawatomi appeared over the edge of the ridge and fired down at the column. Totally surprised, the officers nevertheless managed to rally the men into a battle line, but it was of little use. So many of them fell from immediate wounds that the line collapsed. The Indians overwhelmed them with sheer numbers, flanking the line and snatching the wagons and horses.
    What followed was butchery.... officers were slain with tomahawks.. the fort’s surgeon was cut down by gunfire and then literally chopped into pieces ... Mrs. Heald was wounded by gunfire but was spared when she was captured by a sympathetic chief, the wife of one soldier sought so bravely and savagely that she was hacked into pieces before she fell... John Kinzie’s niece was spared but was narrowly wounded by a tomahawk. She was finally spirited away by a Potawotomi named Black Partridge, a childhood friend. In the end, cut down to less than half their original number, the garrison surrendered under the promise of safe conduct. In all, 148 members of the column were killed, 86 of them adults and 12 of them children.
    Captain Wells, captured early in the fighting, became so enraged by the slaughter that he managed to escape from his captors. He took a horse and rode furiously into the Potawatomi camp, where their own women and children were hidden. Somehow, the barrage of bullets fired at him missed their mark, but his horse was brought down and he was captured again. Two Indian chiefs interceded to save his life, but Pesotum, a Potawatomi chief, stabbed Wells in the back and killed him. His heart was then cut out and distributed to the other warriors as a token of bravery. The next day, a half-breed Wynadot named Billy Caldwell, gathered the remains of Wells’ mutilated body and buried it in the sand. Wells Street, in Chicago, now bears this brave frontiersman’s name.
In the battle, Captain Heald was wounded twice, while his wife was wounded seven times. They were later released and a St. Joseph Indian named Chaudonaire took them to Mackinac, where they were turned over to the British commander there. He sent them to Detroit and they were exchanged with the American authorities.
    John Kinzie and his family were also spared. His friendship with the Potawatomi led to his being taken away from the massacre. He returned to Chicago a year later, but found much had changed by then. He failed to get his business going again and took a position with the American Fur Company, who had once been his largest competitor. In time, the Illinois fur trade came to an end and Kinzie worked as a trader and Indian interpreter until his death in 1828. At that point, thanks to revisionist history books written by his descendants, Kinzie was almost enshrined as a founder of Chicago. Through the 1800’s, history overlooked his questionable business practices, like selling liquor to the Indians and even the murder of a business rival. It would not be until much later that Kinzie’s role in Chicago history would be questioned.
    The other survivors from the massacre were taken as prisoners and some of them died soon after. Others were sold to the British as slaves, who quickly freed them, appalled by the carnage they had experienced. For Dearborn itself was burned to the ground by the victorious Indians and the bodies of the massacre victims were left where they had fallen, scattered to decay on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. When replacement troops arrived at the site of Fort Dearborn a year later, they were greeted with not only the burned-out shell of the fort, but the grinning skeletons of their predecessors and the luckless settlers. The bodies were given proper burials and the fort was rebuilt in 1816, only to be abandoned again in 1836, when the city would be able to fend for itself.
     As for the Indians... the Potawatomi soon began denying any responsibility for the massacre and began blaming the Winnebago Indians instead. The price for the massacre would be high for those natives who had existed peacefully with the white settlers before the war. Memories of the slaughter led to the removal of the Indians from the region and by 1833, their forced removal from Chicago was complete.
    Not surprisingly, the horrific massacre spawned its share of ghostly tales. For many years, the site of the fort itself was said to be haunted by those who were killed nearby. The now vanished fort was located at the south end of the Michigan Avenue Bridge.
    The actual site of the massacre was quiet for many years, long after Chicago grew into a sizable city. However, construction in the eartly 1980’s unearthed a number of human bones. At first thought to be the victims of a cholera epidemic in the 1840’s, the remains were later dated more closely to the early 1800’s. Thanks to their location, they were believed to be the bones of victims from the massacre. They were reburied elsewhere but within a few weeks, people began to report the semi-transparent figures of people dressed in pioneer clothing and military uniforms. They were seen wandering in a field just north of 16th and while many seemed to run about haphazardly, others appeared to move in slow motion. Many of them reportedly looked very frightened or were screaming in silence.

Camp Douglas is next up on the long list of Chicago history.
    Camp Douglas was named in honor of Stephen A. Douglas, the famed Illinois legislator and Lincoln rival, who passed away in Chicago in June 1861. Douglas was still well known for his recent Democratic presidential nomination, which had had lost to Lincoln the year before, as well as his previous 25 years in Illinois politics. During the last years of his life, Douglas and his wife had resided at Okenwald, their south side estate. It was located just east of the present-day intersection of Cottage Grove Avenue and 35th Street.
    Following Douglas’ death, the government took control of his property and constructed a training camp and a prisoner-of-war camp that was named in his honor. In the early months of the war, the outpost trained thousands of Union troops under the command of General Joseph H. Tucker.
    Soon, however, the camp became a place of misery for the Confederate prisoners. The camp received its first prisoners in February 1862, after the Battle of Fort Dickson and soon overcrowding, starvation, scurvy and a complete lack of medical attention made the place into a living hell. The death toll for the camp, during the last three years of the war, has been estimated at as many as 6,129 men, which is slightly less than one-third of the entire prison population at the camp. Most perished from scurvy and smallpox, despite the best intentions of relief workers, who organized a fund to care for the men in 1862. In 1864 alone, 1,156 inmates died at the camp.
    While many left the camp as corpses, others managed to escape. In November 1863, 75 very ragged prisoners managed to tunnel their way beneath the walls. In response, eight companies of the Veteran Reserve Corps and a regiment of Michigan sharpshooters were ordered to the camp for additional protection. There were no more tunnels dug out of the camp.
   To make matters worse, a great fear of insurrection at the camp concerned Chicago city officials. The city was filled with copperheads, spies and southern sympathizers who might do anything to arm the prisoners at the camp. The compound was only guarded by 450 Union enlisted men and officers. This was not a number large enough to make most Chicago citizens feel safe. Somehow though, the camp managed to make it through the war without serious incident and it was closed down in the summer of 1865. The remaining prisoners were asked to take a loyalty oath to the United States and then set free. For a short time, the post was used as a rendezvous point for returning Federal troops, but by fall, it was deserted. In November, the government sold the property and Camp Douglas ceased to exist. The remaining buildings were demolished a short time later.
   Today, the Lake Meadows condominiums are located on the site and a short distance away is a monument to Stephen Douglas that is located on the remains of Okenwald. The burial crypt is located between Lake Park Avenue and the Illinois Central Railroad tracks. The tomb was not completed until 1881 because of the failure to produce backers who would give private funds for its completion. The tomb was eventually funded by the state of Illinois and, as Richard Linberg in his book RETURN TO THE SCENE OF THE CRIME notes... “the monument is the last visible reminder of Chicago’s hidden role in the War Between the States”.

By far the greatest disaster of the city was the great chicago fire.
    In 1871, Chicago was truly a boom town. It had become one of the fastest growing cities in America and because of this, construction standards had been “loose” to say the least. Beyond the downtown area, the city was miles and miles of rickety wooden structures. Most of the working-class neighborhoods consisted of wooden cottages and tenement houses, all of which made for dangerous fuel in the event of a fire. However, Chicago was not wooden “shantytown”, although even the downtown hotels, banks, theaters and stores needed constant repair. Just a month before the Great Fire, the Chicago TRIBUNE had remarked on the shabby construction of the brick and stone downtown buildings. The newspaper warned that they were weak and seemed to be falling apart and mentioned that hardly a week passed when some stone facade or cornice was not falling into the street, narrowly missing the skull of some hapless pedestrian.
   And, they said, if the city didn’t fall down, it was liable to burn! “The absence of rain for three weeks, “ reported the TRIBUNE, “has left everything in so flammable a condition that a spark might set a fire that would sweep from end to end of the city”.
   Although ignoring the legend of the O’Leary cow, the Great Chicago Fire did break out in the vicinity of the O’Leary home at 137 De Koven Street on the west side. The home and barn were located in what was then called the “West Division”, and area of the city that was west of the south branch of the river. Whether the cow kicked over the lantern or not, conditions were perfect for a fire. The summer had been dry and less than three inches of rain had fallen between July and October.
   There had been other fires in the city already. On the previous day, October 7, four blocks of the city had burned. This conflagration was said to have left the fire department so exhausted that they were slow to respond to another alarm at De Koven Street. By the time they arrived, it was already too late. By 10:30 that evening, it was reported that the fire was officially out of control. A strong, dry wind from the southwest made matters even worse, blowing the fire toward the very heart of the city. In what seemed like minutes, mills and factories along the river were on fire. Additional buildings, hit by fiery missiles from the main blaze, also began burning from top to bottom. The air was filled with sparks and cinders that contemporary accounts described as looking like “red rain”.
    In just over an hour, the west side of the city was in ashes and the fire showed no signs of slowing down. It hungrily jumped the Chicago River and pushed toward the center of the city. Among the first buildings to be engulfed was the new Parmalee Omnibus and Stage Company at the southeast corner of Jackson and Franklin Streets. A flying brand also struck the South Side Gas Works and soon this structure burst into flames, creating a new and larger center for the fire. At this point, even the grease and oil-covered river caught fire and the surface of the water shimmered with heat and flames. In moments, the fire also spread to the banks and office buildings along LaSalle Street.
   Soon, the inferno became impossible to battle with more than a dozen different locations burning at once. The fire swept through Wells, Market and Franklin Streets, igniting more than 500 different buildings. One by one, these great structures fell. The TRIBUNE building, long vaunted as “fire proof”, was turned into a smoking ruin as were the great hotels like the Palmer House, the Tremont and the Sherman. Marshall Field’s grand department store, along with hundreds of other businesses, were reduced to blazing ash.
     In the early morning hours of Monday, the fire reached the courthouse, which stood in a block surrounded by LaSalle, Clark, Randolph and Washington Streets. A burning timber landed on the building’s wooden cupola and the soon turned into a fire that blazed out of control. The building was ordered evacuated. The prisoners, who had begun to scream and shake the bars of their cells as smoke filled the air, were released. Most of them were allowed to simply go free but the most dangerous of them were shackled and taken away under guard. Just after 2:00 AM, the bell of the courthouse tolled for the last time and it crashed through the remains of the building to the ground beneath it. The roaring sound made by the building’s collapse was reportedly heard more than a mile away.
    Around this same time, the State Street Bridge, leading to the north side, also caught fire and soon the fire began to devours the area on the north side of the river as well. Soon, stables, warehouse and breweries were also burning. Then, the fire swept into the luxurious residential district surrounding Cass, Huron, Ontario, Rush and Dearborn Streets. Here, stood the mansions of some of Chicago’s oldest and most prominent families. By daylight, these beautiful homes were nothing but ruins.
    By 3:00 AM that morning, the pumps at the Waterworks on Pine Street had been destroyed and by Monday evening, the only intact structure for blocks was the gothic stone Water Tower. Somehow, it managed to survive the devastation. Legend has it that this structure is haunted today by the ghost of a man who stayed on the job during the fire, continuing to pump the water as the fire got closer. The story goes that this heroic city worker waited until the last possible minute and then took his own life rather than be engulfed in the flames. His ghost has reportedly been seen hanging through an upper window of the tower.
     The flames were not the only thing that residents of the city had to worry about either. In the early hours of the fire, looting and violence had broken out in the city. Saloon keepers, hoping that it might prevent their taverns from being destroyed, had foolishly rolled barrels of whiskey out into the streets. Soon, men and women from all classes were staggering in the streets, thoroughly intoxicated. The drunks and the looters did not comprehend the danger they were in however and many were trampled in the streets. Plundered goods were also tossed aside and were lost in the fire, abandoned by the looters as the fire drew near. Although many were injured, the stories of lawlessness were greatly exaggerated in later accounts. They were overblown into stories of lynchings and murders by “villainous Negroes” and Irishmen. The tales were proved to be absolutely false.
    Worse perhaps than the looters were the drivers of wagons and carts who charged outrageous prices to haul away household possessions and baggage. This only added to the misery of the fleeing people and compounded the chaos. In his book, CITY OF THE CENTURY, author Donald L. Miller described the scene as the streets thronged with people... crying children searched for their parents... processions of refugees milled everywhere... wealthy ladies panicked, wearing all of the jewelry they owned... immigrant women ran, carrying mattresses on their heads... half-naked prostitutes scurried from rented “cribs” on Wells and Clark Streets.... people carried the sick and the crippled on chairs or on makeshift litters... even the bodies of the dead were transported in coffins or wrapped in bed sheets.... It combined to create a vision that most of us cannot even imagine today.
    Thankfully, the fire began to die on the morning of October 10, when steady and soaking rains began to fall on Chicago. The people of the city were devastated, as was the city itself. Over 300 people were dead and another 100,000 were without homes or shelter. The fire had cut a swath through the city that was four miles long and about two-thirds of a mile wide. Over $200 million in property had been destroyed. Records, deeds, archives, libraries and priceless artwork were all lost although a little of it had survived in public and private vaults. In the destruction of the Federal Building, which, among other things, housed the post office, more than $100,000 in currency was burned.
    Chicago had become a blasted and charred wasteland.
In the first days after the fire, wild rumors flew about more looting in the city. It was said that criminals were now breaking into safes and vaults in the ruined business district. Local business owners hired Allan Pinkerton to deploy his detectives around the remains of stores and banks and soon, six companies of Federal troops arrived under the command of General Phillip Sheridan to assist in maintaining order. Two days later, Chicago’s Mayor, Roswell Mason, placed the city under martial law, entrusting Sheridan and his troops to watch over it.
    Although Sheridan saw no sign of the reported murders and looting, he did recruit a volunteer home guard of about 1000 men to patrol unburned areas of the city. He also enforced a curfew, much to the chagrin of Illinois governor John M. Palmer, who felt that martial law was uncalled for and unnecessary. Mayor Mason was heavily influenced by local business leaders however and ignored Palmer’s order to withdraw the troops. The state of martial law didn’t last for long though. A few days after it went into effect, a local businessman (and one of those responsible for pushing Mason into bringing in Sheridan) was accidentally killed by one of the volunteer home guard. In spite of this, Sheridan did receive orders from President Grant that left four companies of men in the city through the end of the year.
  As terrible as the disaster was, Chicago was not dead... merely shaken and stunned. Within days of the fire, rebuilding began on a grand scale. The vigor of the city’s rebirth amazed the rest of the nation and within three years, it once again dominated the western United States. It soared from the ashes like the fable phoenix and became the home of the first skyscraper in 1885, then passed the one million mark in population five years later. The Great Chicago Fire was the beginning of a new metropolis, much greater than it could have ever become if the horrific fire had never happened at all.

One of the most devastating and haunting, tragedies to hit Chicago was the capsizing of the Eastland steamer, on July 24, 1915, between the clark and Lasalle street bridges.
    Although it had only just departed the dock when the tragedy occurred, the steamer was bound for Michigan City, Indiana where a picnic had been planned for the workers of “Western Electric” and their families. There were four vessels chartered to take the estimated 7,000 people on their journey across the lake. One of these vessels was the EASTLAND, a rusting Lake Michigan steamer owned by the St. Joseph-Chicago Steamship Company. It was supposed to hold a capacity crowd of 2,570 but it is believed that at least 3,200 were on board. Besides being overcrowded, the vessel had a reputation for being notoriously unstable.
    The EASTLAND was moored on the south side of the river and after the passengers were loaded on board, the dock lines were loosed and the ship prepared to depart. What followed was a nightmare....
    The overflow crowd, dressed in their best summer attire, even on this drizzly morning, jammed onto the decks, waving handkerchiefs and calling out to those still on shore. The ship eased away from the dock and immediately began to list to the post. As more passengers pushed toward that side of the deck, the boat tilted dangerously. What the passengers were unaware of was that the crew of the steamer had emptied the ballast compartments (designed to provide “stability” for the craft) so that more passengers could be loaded aboard. This would be the undoing of the EASTLAND... as moments later, the ship simply toppled over!
    The passengers above deck were thrown into the water and the river became a moving sea of bodies. Crews on the other boats threw life preservers into the river, while onlookers began throwing lines, boxes and anything else that would float to the floundering passengers. To make matters more difficult, the river was now surging, thanks to the wake caused by the overturned ship. Many of the luckless passengers were pulled beneath the water by the current, or swamped by the crashing waves.
    Worst of all was the fate of those passengers who had remained inside of the ship when it had departed. These unlucky victims were first thrown to one side of the ship as it turned over and then they were covered with water as the river rushed inside. A few of them managed to escape to the upturned end of the ship, but most didn’t, becoming trapped in a tangled heap at the lowest point of the EASTLAND.
    Firefighters and rescue workers arrived within minutes and began cutting holes in the wood above the water line and in the steel hull below it. In the first fateful minutes, a number of passengers managed to escape, but soon, it was simply too late. The rescue workers had to resign themselves to fishing corpses out of the water, which they wrapped in sheets and transferred to the ROOSEVELT, another vessel that had been rented for the excursion. The big downtown stores sent wagons and trucks to ferry the injured and dead to nearby hospitals and makeshift morgues. Large grappling hooks were also used to pull bodies from the water.
    By late that afternoon, nearly 200 bodies had been taken to the 2nd Regiment Armory on West Washington Blvd. According to newspaper accounts, a police diver who had been hauling bodies up from the bottom of the river since mid-morning suddenly broke down and became crazed. He had to be subdued by several of his friends and fellow officers. City workers began dragging the river far south of where the ship had capsized, using large nets to stop the bodies from washing out into the lake. By the time that it was all over, 835 of the ships passengers perished, including 22 entire families.
    The mystery of the EASTLAND was never solved. There was never a clear cause that could be reached that accounted for the capsizing of the vessel. Several hundred lawsuits were eventually filed but almost all of them were thrown out by the Circuit Court of Appeals, who held the owners of the steamship blameless in the disaster. The EASTLAND was later sold at public auction in December 1915. The title was later transferred to the government and it was pressed into duty as the gunboat USS WILMETTE. In 1946, it was sold for scrap metal.
    But the story of the EASTLAND does not end there.....
In recent years, the armory building, where most of the dead were taken during the disaster, has been incorporated into Harpo Studios, the production company owned by Oprah Winfrey. As one of Chicago’s greatest success stories, Oprah came to Chicago in 1984 to host the WLS-TV talk show “AM Chicago”. Within a few years, she had recreated the program and it was re-named the “Oprah Winfrey Show”. She has since gone on to become the host of the most popular talk show in television history, a film star, producer and well-known personality.
    But all of the success and attention that the show has brought to the former armory building has done nothing to put to rest the spirits of the EASTLAND. Many who work here claim that the ghosts of the perished passengers are still restless in the new studios. According to reports, many employees have had strange encounters that cannot be explained, including the sighting of an apparition that has been dubbed the “Gray Lady”. In addition, staff members hear whispering voices, the laughter of children, sobbing sounds, old-time music, the clinking of phantom glasses and marching of invisible footsteps. The footsteps (which sound as though they belong to a large group) are frequently heard on the lobby staircase and nearby doors often slam shut without assistance. A large number of the staff members believe this to be a very haunted place!
    The site of the disaster is not without its chilling stories either. Today, the site is marked by a historical plaque, commemorating the memories of those whose lives were lost. Some say it is marked by other things as well..... namely cries of terror from the victims of the tragedy. For many years, passersby on the Clark Street Bridge claimed to hear cries and moans coming from the river, along with the bloodcurdling sound of terrified screams. Perhaps the horror of the event impressed itself on this place, where it continues to replay itself over and over again.

The Haymarket square riot in 1886, would change the face of the labor movement forever.
   The events that culminated here had been brewing since the end of the Civil War as trade unions began to organize to protect the rights of workers. It should also be pointed out that many of the organizers were blatant socialists and some were not content to merely let strikes and walk-outs speak for them. Many of them endorsed a more violent form of action. That action reached its peak in Haymarket Square, where rural farmers came to exchange produce for cash, in May 1886.
    Recent troubles at the McCormick Reaper Works had turned Chicago into a labor battleground. There was trouble simmering in the city, hidden just below the surface, but threatening to boil over. On Tuesday evening, May 4, a mass meeting of workers was called to protest police actions against striking employees at the McCormick factory, who were trying to force an eight-hour work day. A crowd of 20,000 had been expected but a cool rain kept many in. Eventually, about 2,500 tired spectators showed up to hear the speeches by Albert Parsons, Samuel Fielden and August Spies. All three men were considered “dangerous agitators” and “anarchists” by city business leaders however Mayor Carter Henry Harrison, issued a parade permit for the gathering, believing there was no cause for concern.
    Others were not so sure. Responding to pressure from businessmen, Police Inspector John Bonfield called up 600 police reserves into duty that night at the West Chicago, Harrison and Central stations. He led them to believe that a citywide riot might occur. One 100 more officers were added to the Des Plains station, less than a half block from Haymarket Square.
    The rally began at 8:30 pm and the crowd was fairly listless, plus damp from the drizzling rain. Mayor Harrison rode by on his horse a short time later and was satisfied that it was a peaceable gathering. He ordered Bonfield to send the reserve officers home. The police inspector refused and two hours later, he ordered his men to disperse the crowd. The speakers were approached by Captain William Ward, who commanded the meeting to end in the “name of the people of Illinois”.
    Suddenly, according to author Richard Linberg, a crudely manufactured pipe bomb was thrown from a vestibule at Randolph and Des Plaines Streets. The bomb exploded in the midst of a 200-man police column. Officer Mathias Degan was killed instantly and six others were mortally wounded. Although momentarily stunned, the officers quickly recovered and began shooting wildly into the fleeing crowd of laborers. The shooting continued for more than five minutes.
    While the mayor pleaded for calm, Bonfield and Police Inspector Michael Schaak took it upon themselves to find the culprits who had thrown the bomb....or who had caused the bomb to be thrown in the first place. The officers began a reign of terror among working class citizens in Chicago. All rights (such as they were then) were suspended and hundreds of suspects were arrested, beaten and interrogated at all hours of the night. False confessions were violently extracted from those thought to be “anarchists” or sympathizers of the labor unions. Whoever the bomb thrower actually was. He faded away into history.
    Eventually, eight conspirators were brought to trial for the riot and seven of them received the death sentence, while the eighth was given 15 years in prison. All of them were tried and sentenced on conspiracy charges to incite violence that led to the deaths of the police officers. On November 11, 1887, August Spies, Albert Parsons, George Engel and Adolph Fischer were hanged at the Criminal Courts Building on Hubbard Street. Another of the conspirators died in an explosion and the death sentences of the others were commuted to prison terms.
    The city of Chicago erected a statue of a police officer in Haymarket Square on May 4, 1889 and it became the first such monument in the nation. For many years, the police were seen as the martyr’s of the riot but with the rise of the big labor unions, that perception slowly changed. During the 1960’s, the statue was defaced, blown up twice, repaired and finally removed to the Chicago Police Training Academy by Mayor Richard J. Daley. Nothing remains to mark this area today..... save for the memories of the past.

There is a road in chicago that seems all to creepy, this place is called German Church Road and it was along this road that the victims of one of the most horrific crimes in Chicago history were found.
It was December 28, 1956 and Patricia Grimes, 13, and Barbara Grimes, 15, left their home at 3624 South Damen Avenue and headed for the Brighton Theater, only a mile away. The girls were both avid fans of Elvis Presley and had gone to see his film Love Me Tender for the eleventh and final time. The girls were recognized in the popcorn line at 9:30 PM and then seen on an eastbound Archer Avenue bus at 11:00 PM. After that, things are less certain but this may have been the last time they were ever seen alive. The two sisters were missing for the next twenty-five days, before their naked and frozen bodies were found along the banks of Devil's Creek in the southwest part of Cook County.
     The girl’s mother, Loretta Grimes, expected the girls to come home by 11:45 but was already growing uneasy when they had not arrived 15 minutes prior to that. At midnight, she sent her daughter Theresa, 17, and her son Joey, 14, to the bus stop at 35th and Hoyne to watch for them. After three buses had stopped and had failed to discharge their sisters, Theresa and Joey returned home without them. They never saw the girls again, but strangely, others claimed to.
     The last reported sightings of the two girls came from classmates who spotted them at Angelo's Restaurant at 3551 South Archer Avenue, more than 24 hours after their reported disappearance. How accurate this sighting was is unknown, as a railroad conductor also reported them on a train near the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in north suburban Glenview. A security guard on the northwest side offered directions to two girls he believed were the Grimes sisters on the morning of the 29th, hours after they disappeared. On January 1, both girls were allegedly identified as passengers aboard a CTA bus on Damen Avenue. During the week that followed, they were reported in Englewood by George Pope, a night clerk at the Unity Hotel on West 61st Street, who refused them a room because of their ages. Three employees at Kresge believed they saw the girls listening to Elvis Presley songs at the record counter on January 3.
     The police theorized that the girls had run away but Loretta Grimes refused to believe it. She was sure the girls were not missing voluntarily but the authorities were still not convinced. Regardless, it became the greatest missing persons hunt in Chicago police history. Even Elvis Presley, in a statement issued from Graceland, asked the girls to come home and ease their mother's worries. The plea went unanswered.
    More strangeness would be reported before the bodies of the girls were found. A series of ransom letters, that were later discovered to have come from a mental patient, took Mrs. Grimes to Milwaukee on January 12. She was escorted by FBI agents and instructed to sit in a downtown Catholic church with $1,000 on the bench beside her. The letter promised that Barbara Grimes would walk in to retrieve the money and then leave to deliver it to the kidnapper. She and her sister would then be released. Needless to say, no one ever came and Mrs. Grimes was left sitting there for hours to contemplate her daughter’s fate. By that time, it’s likely that the bodies of the two girls were already lying along German Church Road, covered with snow.
    But if that’s true though, then how can we explain the two telephone calls that were received by Wallace and Ann Tollstan on January 14? Their daughter, Sandra, was a classmate of Patricia Grimes at the St. Maurice School and they received the two calls around midnight. The first call jolted Mr. Tollstan out of his sleep but when he picked up the receiver, the person on the other end of the line did not speak. He waited a few moments and then hung up. About 15 minutes later, the phone rang again and this time, Ann Tollstan answered it. The voice on the other end of the line asked "Is that you, Sandra? Is Sandra there?" But before Mrs. Tollstan could bring her daughter to the phone, the caller had clicked off the line. Ann Tollstan was convinced that the frightened voice on the telephone had belonged to Patricia Grimes!
    And that wasn’t the only strange happening to mark the period when the girls were missing. On January 15, a police switchboard operator received a call from a man who refused to identify himself but who insisted that the girl’s bodies would be found in a park at 81st and Wolf. He claimed that this revelation had come to him in a dream and he hung up. The call was then traced to Green’s Liquor Market on South Halstead and the caller was discovered to be Walter Kranz, a 53 year-old steamfitter. According to a Chicago Sun-Times article, he was taken into custody after the bodies were found on January 22 -- less than a mile from the park that Kranz said he dreamed of! He became one of the numerous people who were questioned by the police and then released.
    Finally, the vigil for the Grimes Sisters ended on January 22, 1957 when construction worker Leonard Prescott was driving south on German Church Road near Willow Springs. He spotted what appeared to be two discarded clothing store mannequins lying next to a guardrail, a short distance from the road. A few feet away, the ground dropped off to Devil's Creek below. Unsure of what he had seen, Prescott nervously brought his wife to the spot, and then they drove to the local police station. His wife, Marie Prescott, was so upset by the sight of the bodies that she had to be carried back to their car.
    Once investigators realized the "mannequins" were actually bodies, they soon discovered they were the Grimes Sisters. Barbara Grimes lay on her left side with her legs slightly drawn up toward her body. Her head was covered by the body of her sister, who had been thrown onto her back with her head turned sharply to the right. It looked as if they had been discarded there by someone so cold and heartless that he saw the girls as nothing more than refuse to be tossed away on a lonely roadside.
     The officials in charge, Cook County Sheriff Joseph D. Lohman and Harry Glos, an aggressive investigator for Coroner Walter E. McCarron, surmised that the bodies had been lying there for several days, perhaps as far back as January 9. This had been the date of the last heavy snowfall and the frigid temperatures that followed the storm had preserved the bodies to a state that resembled how they looked at the moment of death. As the newspapers broke the story on the morning of January 23, both the press and the investigators in the case began to draw connections between the murders of the Grimes sisters and the killings of three young boys who had been found under similar circumstances in October 1955.
    One of the most shocking and terrifying events in the history of Chicago took place in that month, when the bodies of the three boys were discovered in a virtually crime-free community on the northwest side of the city. This was several years before the disappearance of the Grimes sisters and at the time of what was called the Schuessler-Peterson murders, the city would be stunned by the horror of violence against children.
    The terrifying events began on a cool Sunday afternoon in the fall of 1955 when three boys from the northwest side of the city headed downtown to catch a matinee performance of a movie at a Loop Theater. The boys made the trip with their parent’s consent because in those days, parents thought little of their responsible children going off on excursions by themselves. The boys had always proven dependable in the past and this time would have been no exception, if tragedy had not occurred.
    With $4 between them, John and Anton Schuessler and Bobby Peterson ventured into the Chicago Loop to see a movie that Bobby’s mother had chosen for them. Around 6:00 pm that night, long after the matinee had ended, the boys were reported in the lobby of the Garland Building at 111 North Wabash. There was no explanation for what they might have been doing there, other than that Peterson’s eye doctor was located in the building. It seems unlikely that he would have been visiting the optometrist on a Sunday afternoon.
    Around 7:45 pm, the three entered the Monte Cristo Bowling Alley on West Montrose. The parlor was a neighborhood eating place and the proprietor later recalled to the police that he recalled the boys and that a "fifty-ish" looking man was showing an "abnormal interest" in several younger boys who were bowling. He was unable to say if the man made contact with the trio. They left the bowling alley and walked down Montrose to another bowling alley, then thumbed a ride at the intersection of Lawrence and Milwaukee Avenue. They were out of money by this time, but not quite ready to go home. It was now 9:05 in the evening and their parents were beginning to get worried. They had reason to be, for the boys were never seen alive again.
    Two days later, the boy’s naked and bound bodies were discovered in a shallow ditch about 100 feet east of the Des Plaines River. A salesman, who had stopped to eat his lunch at the Robinson Wood’s Indian Burial Grounds nearby, spotted them and called the police. Coroner Walter McCarron stated that the cause of death was "asphyxiation by suffocation". The three boys had been dead about 36 hours when they were discovered.
    Bobby Peterson had been struck repeatedly and had been strangled with a rope or a necktie. The killer had used adhesive tape to cover the eyes of all three victims. They had then been thrown from a vehicle. Their clothing was never discovered.
    The city of Chicago was thrown into a panic. Police officials reported that they had never seen such a horrible crime. The fears of parents all over the city were summed up by the grief-stricken Anton Schuessler Sr. who said, "When you get to the point that children cannot go to the movies in the afternoon and get home safely, something is wrong with this country."
    Police officers combed the area, conducting door-to-door searches and neighborhood interrogations. Search teams combed Robinson’s Woods, looking for clues or items of clothing. The killer (or killers) had gone to great length to get rid of any signs of fingerprints or traces of evidence. By this time, various city and suburban police departments had descended on the scene, running into each other and further hampering the search for clues. There was little or no cooperation between the separate agencies and if anything had been discovered, it would have most likely been lost in the confusion.
    While investigators were coming up empty, an honor guard of Boy Scouts carried the coffins of the three boys from the St. Tarcissus Roman Catholic Church to a hearse that would take them to St. Joseph Cemetery. The church was filled to capacity with an estimated 1,200 mourners. This marked the end of innocence in Chicago. With the death of the Grimes sisters a few years later, it was apparent to all that America had changed for the worse.
    The horror felt by parents in Chicagoland was only compounded by the disappearance of the Grimes sisters and the subsequent discovery of their bodies. Like the Schuessler’s and Bobby Peterson, the girls had been found naked and dumped in a secluded, wooded area. And also like the murders a few years before (still unsolved at the time), the bodies had looked to be mannequins by those who discovered them.
    The bodies along German Church Road sent the various police departments into action. A short time after the discovery, more than 162 officers from Chicago, Cook County, the Forest Preserves and five south suburban police departments began combing the woods -- and tramping all over whatever evidence may have been there. Between the officers, the reporters, the medical examiners and everyone else, the investigation was already botched. Despite the claims of Lt. Joseph Morris, the head of a special police unit investigating the Schuessler-Peterson murders, who said "We’re not going to repeat some of the mistakes that we made the last time", things were already off to a bad start.
    And the investigation became even more confusing in the days to come. The bodies were removed from the scene and were taken to the Cook County Morgue, where they would be stored until they thawed out and an autopsy became possible. Before they were removed though, both police investigators and reporters commented on the condition of the corpses, noting bruises and marks that have still not been adequately explained to this day. According to a newspaper article, there were three "ugly" wounds in Patricia’s abdomen and the left side of her face had been battered, resulting in a possibly broken nose. Barbara’s face and head had also been bruised and there were punctures from an ice pick in her chest. Once the bodies were moved, investigators stayed on the scene to search for clothing and clues but neither were found.
    Once the autopsies were performed the following day, all hopes that the examinations would provide new evidence or leads were quickly dashed. Despite the efforts of three experienced pathologists, they could not reach agreement on a time or cause of death. They stated that the girls had died from shock and exposure but were only able to reach this conclusion by eliminating other causes. And by also concluding that the girls had died on December 28, the night they had disappeared, they created more puzzles than they had managed to solve. If the girls had died on the night they had gone missing, then how could the sightings that took place after that date be explained? And if the bodies had been exposed to the elements since that time, then why hadn’t anyone else seen them?
    Barbara and Patricia were buried on January 28, one month after they disappeared, although their mystery was no closer to being solved than it had been in December.
    The residents of Chicagoland were stunned and the case of the murdered girls became an obsession. The local community organized searches for clues and passed out flyers looking for information. Money was raised to assist the destitute Grimes family and eventually the funds paid off their Damen Avenue home. The Chicago Tribune invited readers to send in theories about the case and paid $50 for any they published. The clergy and the parishioners from St. Maurice offered a $1,000 reward and sent out letters to area residents, hoping that someone might have seen the girls before they vanished. Even photographs were taken of friends of the girls that duplicated the clothing they wore on December 28 in hopes that it might jog the memory of someone who saw them. On the night they saw Love Me Tender for the last time, Patricia wore blue jeans, a yellow sweater, a black jacket with white sleeve stripes, a white scarf over her head and black shoes. Her sister reportedly wore a gray tweed skirt, yellow blouse, a three-quarter length coat, a gray scarf, white bobby sox and black, ballerina shoes. The clothing though, like the girl’s killer, was never found.
    The killer may have eluded the authorities but it was not because no one was trying to find him. Investigators questioned an unbelievable 300,000 persons, searching for information about the girls, and 2,000 of these people were seriously interrogated, which in those days could be brutal. A number of suspects were seriously considered and among the first was the "dreamer", Walter Kranz, who called police with his mysterious tip on January 15. He was held at the Englewood police station for some time and was repeatedly interrogated and given lie detector tests about his involvement in the murders. No solid evidence was ever found against him though.
    The police also named a 17-year-old named Max Fleig as a suspect but the current law did not allow juveniles to be tested with a polygraph. Police Captain Ralph Petaque persuaded the boy to take the test anyway and in the midst of it, he confessed to kidnapping the girls. Because the test was illegal and inadmissible, the police were forced to let Fleig go free. Was he the killer? No one will ever know. Regardless, Fleig was sent to prison a few years later for the brutal murder of a young woman.
    In the midst of all of this, the police still had to deal with nuts and cranks, more so-called psychic visions and a number of false confessions, making their work even harder. One confession that they investigated came from a transient who was believed to have been involved in some other murders around the same time period. His confession later unraveled and he admitted that he had lied.
    Eager to crack the floundering case, Cook County Sheriff Joseph Lohman then arrested a Tennessee drifter named Edward L. "Benny" Bedwell. The drifter, who sported Elvis-style sideburns and a ducktail haircut, had reportedly been seen with the Grimes sisters in a restaurant where he sometimes washed dishes in exchange for food. When he was initially questioned, Bedwell admitted that he had been in the D&L Restaurant on West Madison with two girls and an unnamed friend but he insisted that the owners of the place were mistaken about the girls being the Grimes sisters.
    According to the owners, John and Minnie Duros, the group had entered the diner around 5:30 on the morning of December 30. They described the taller girl (Patricia?) as being either so drunk or so sick that she was staggering as she walked. The couples sat in a booth for awhile and listened to Elvis songs on the jukebox and then went outside. According to Minnie Duros, "The taller girl returned to the booth and put her head on the table. They wanted her to get into the car, but she didn’t want to. The other girl and the two men came back later and I told them to leave the girl alone -- she’s sick. But they all left anyway and on their way out, Barbara said they were sisters."
    Lohman found the story plausible, thanks to the unshakable identification of the girls by Minnie Duros, their respective heights, the fact that one of them said they were sisters and finally, Bedwell’s resemblance to Elvis. Lohman believed this might have been enough to get the girls to go along with him. And then of course, there was Bedwell’s confession, which related a lurid and sexually explicit tale of drunken debauchery with the two young women. He made and recanted three confessions and even re-enacted the crime for Lohman on January 27. Everyone doubted the story but Lohman. He booked Bedwell on murder charges, but the drifter's testimony was both vague and contradictory and (most likely) his confession had been beaten out of him. On January 31, he testified that he had confessed out of fear of Lohman’s men, who had struck and threatened him while he was being questioned.
    Another of the chief investigators in the case, Harry Glos, believed that Bedwell might have been implicated in the murders in some way but that he was a dubious suspect. State's Attorney Benjamin Adamowski agreed and ordered the drifter released. All charges against Bedwell were dismissed on March 4 and upon leaving the courtroom, he was re-arrested on a fugitive warrant from Florida for the rape of a 13 year-old girl. The crime he was charged with in Florida closely resembled the one that took the lives of the Grimes sisters but he managed to avoid conviction for it, thanks to the passage of time while he was a fugitive. According to reports, Bedwell’s accuser had been held captive for three days before escaping and notifying the police of her abduction and rape. Bedwell later spend time in prison on a weapons charge and died at some point after he was released in 1986.
    The dismissal of charges against Bedwell in the Grimes case set off another round of bickering between police departments and various jurisdictions and the case became even more mired in red tape and inactivity. It got even worse when coroner’s investigator Glos publicly criticized the autopsy findings concerning the time and cause of death. He shocked the public by announcing that Barbara and Patricia could not have died on the night they disappeared. He said that an ice layer around the bodies proved that they were warm when they were left along German Church Road and that only after January 7 would there have been enough snow to create the ice and to hide the bodies.
     Glos also raised the issues of the puncture wounds and bruises on the bodies, which had never been explained or explored. He was sure that they girls had been violently treated prior to death and also asserted that the older sister, Barbara, had been sexually molested before she was killed. The pathologists had denied this but the Chicago Police crime lab reluctantly confirmed it. However, they were angry with Glos for releasing the information because they wanted to keep it secret so that they could use it when questioning suspects.

    The coroner, Walter McCarron, promptly had Glos fired and many of the other investigators in the case accused him of being reckless and of political grandstanding. Only Sheriff Lohman, who later deputized Glos to work on the case without pay, remained on his side. He agreed that the girls had likely been beaten and tortured by a sexual predator who lured them into the kidnap car under a seemingly innocent pretense. Lohman remained convinced until his death in 1969 that the predator who had killed the girls had been Benny Bedwell.
    Other theories maintain that the girls may have indeed encountered Bedwell or another "older man" and rumors circulated that the image of the two girls had been polished to cover up some very questionable behavior on their parts. It was said that they sometimes hung around a bar on Archer Avenue where men would buy them drinks. One of the men may have been Benny Bedwell. Harry Glos, who died in 1994, had released information that one of the girls had been sexually active but later reports from those who have seen the autopsy slides say there is evidence that both of them may have been. It is believed that Coroner McCarron may not have released this because of religious reasons or to spare additional grief for the family.
     Today, veteran detectives believe that there was much more to the story that met the eye. According to Richard Lindberg's book, Return to the Scene of the Crime, they are convinced that Barbara and Patricia were abducted by a front man for a "white slavery" ring and taken to a remote location in the woods surrounding Willow Springs. They are convinced that the girls were strangled after refusing to become prostitutes. It’s also possible that the girls may have been lured into an involvement in the prostitution ring by someone they knew (perhaps one of the older men from the Archer Avenue bar?), not realizing what would be required of them, and they were killed to keep them silent.
   Others refused to even consider this though and were angered by the negative gossip about the two girls. Some remain angry about this even today, maintaining that Barbara and Patricia were nice, ordinary, happy girls and were tragically killed on a cold night because they made the mistake of accepting a ride from a stranger. They didn’t hang around in bars, these old friends maintain, they were simply innocent teenage girls, just like everyone else at that time.
    As for myself, I’d like to think these old acquaintances are right. There are few stories as tragic as the demise of the Grimes sisters and perhaps it provides some cold comfort for us to believe that their deaths were simply a terrible mistake or the actions of deviant killer. It can provide us that comfort of knowing that the girls were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and that such a thing could have happened to anyone. But does believing this make us feel better -- or worse?
   Years passed. As there is no statute of limitations for murder, the case officially remained open but there was little chance that it would ever be solved. The Grimes family saw their hopes for closure in the case slowly fading away. Loretta Grimes passed away in December 1989 and by all accounts was a tragic and broken woman.
    For the next several years, the investigation continued and more suspects were interviewed. A $100,000 reward was posted but the trail went cold. Then, decades later, hope was raised for the Grimes case when a solution was finally discovered to the Schuessler-Peterson murders from 1955. In a bizarre turn of events, a government informant named William Wemette accused one Kenneth Hansen of the murders during a police investigation into the 1977 disappearance of candy heiress Helen Vorhees Brach.
    In 1955, Hansen, then 22 years old, worked as a stable hand for Silas Jayne, a millionaire from Kane County. Jayne himself was wild and reckless and had been suspected of many violent and devious dealings during his rise to power in the horse-breeding world. He went to prison in 1973 for the murder of his half brother, George. Hansen himself was no prize either and soon, investigators were able to build a case against him. The case resulted in the deviant’s arrest in August 1994.
    Cook County prosecutors showed jurors how Hansen had lured the Schuessler brothers and Bobby Peterson into his car under false pretenses. They retraced the path of the killer in what author Richard Lindberg called "chilling detail". His story was that he wanted to show the boys some prize horses belonging to Silas Jayne. According to the testimony of several men that Hansen had bragged to, he had molested and then killed the Schuessler’s and Peterson one by one. When Jayne discovered his crime, the horse breeder burned the stables in order to obliterate any evidence that Hansen had left behind. Hansen’s brother had then dumped the boy’s bodies at Robinson’s Woods and Jayne had filed a bogus insurance claim for the lost building.
    This case came to trial in 1995 and breaking a 40 year silence, many of Hansen’s other victims came forward, recalling promises of jobs made to young men in return for sexual favors. He forced their silence with threats that included warnings that they might end up "like the Peterson boy". Even without evidence and eyewitnesses to corroborate the prosecution’s allegations against him, a Cook County jury convicted Kenneth Hansen of the murders in September 1995. They deliberated for less than two hours and Hansen was sentenced for 200-300 years in prison.
    Bobby Peterson and the Schuessler brothers could finally rest in peace -- but the same could not be said for Barbara and Patricia Grimes. Despite the new public awareness and police interest in their deaths, the case became cold once again. Apparently, the investigator’s theories about a connection between their murders and those of the Schuessler and Peterson boys were not correct after all.
    Now, more than 40 years later, the mystery of who killed the Grimes sisters remains unsolved. Those who still have an interest in the case will sometimes travel down German Church Road, in the southern suburb of Willow Springs, and wind up at a low point in this "haunted highway" where the bodies of the two girls were discovered so many years ago. The impact of tragedy is still being felt today, as is the impression of what may have been a depraved killer’s most desperate moments.
    Today, the tree-lined roadway is heavily shadowed and quiet. There is almost a silence in the air that a traveler only seems to notice if he knows the reason why this is a haunted place. Away from the road, those who listen closely can hear the rippling of Devil’s Creek below and one has to wonder if the whispering of the water could actually speak -- what dark secrets would it have to reveal?
    The bodies of the Grimes sisters were tossed without ceremony at the edge of a ravine, just over a guardrail and only a few feet from the shoulder of the road. A short distance away from this site, its entrance now blocked with a chain, was a narrow drive that once led to a house that was nestled in the trees. Mysteriously, the house was abandoned by the young family who lived there soon after the girl’s bodies were discovered. Many of the belongings were left behind in the house and toys and furniture lay scattered about the yard for years. Even a 1955 Buick sat rusting in the driveway but it was eventually taken away. At some point, vandals set fire to the house and the owner had to demolish what was left. And while the owner never lived there again, people would occasionally see a tall, gaunt man roaming about the property in the spring and fall, when the trees and brush were thin. It was assumed that he had once occupied the place, but those who saw him were afraid to ask.
    Until just a few years ago, the foundation of the abandoned house was still visible and landscaped hedges and a few remaining artifacts served to bear witness that a family had once lived here. Below the concrete slab of the house, a basement remained intact with a water heater, window screens and an old workbench littering the crumbling floor. Why the family abandoned the home remains almost as great a mystery as who killed Barbara and Patricia Grimes. If anyone knows, they aren’t saying but like the murder case, those with an interest have their theories. Some believe the owner may have been questioned about the crime and simply felt too embarrassed to stay. It has also been suggested that the family may have seen something on the night the bodies were dumped near their house and became too frightened to remain behind.
    Others claim that the house, located so close to the place where the bodies were found, became haunted. And perhaps this is not as far-fetched as you might first think...
    Since the discovery of the bodies, the police have received reports from those who say they have heard a car pulling up to the location with its motor running. They also say they have heard the door open, followed by the sound of something being dumped alongside the road. The door slams shut and the car drives away. They have heard these things -- and yet there is no car in sight!
    According to author Tamara Shaffer, there was a young woman who took a number of her friends on a tour of the old house and the murder site one evening. They walked up the path that branched off from the driveway and circled the ruins of the house and under the light of the moon overhead, they saw a car approaching up the gravel drive from the road. It was a dark vehicle with no lights and it sped past them and around the house, then disappeared. The woman and her friends decided to leave and as they did, they encountered the police, who had been called to chase off the "tour group". The chain that had been used to close off the driveway was still hanging in place and the police officers had seen no other car.
    Another woman claimed that in addition to the sounds, she saw what appeared to be the naked bodies of two young girls lying on the edge of the roadway. When police investigated, there was no sign of the bodies.
    Many researchers believe in "residual hauntings", which means that an event may cause an impression to be left behind on the atmosphere of a place. It seems possible that the traumatic final moments of the Grimes sisters may have left such an impression on this small stretch of German Church Road. It may have also been an impression caused by the anxiety and madness of the killer as he left the bodies of the young women behind.
    But believe in hauntings or not, that choice is up to the reader - but should you ever travel along German Church Road, I defy you to stop along the roadway where the bodies of Barbara and Patricia were found and to say that you are not moved by the tragedy that came to an end here.
    Without a doubt, I think you will agree, this is a dark and haunted place.

The St. Valentine's day massacre is next up.
For a city that is so filled with the history of crime, there has been little preservation of the landmarks that were once so important to the legend of the mob in Chicago. Gone are the landmarks like the Lexington Hotel, where Al Capone kept the fifth floor suite and used the place as his headquarters. But most tragic, at least to crime buffs, was the destruction of the warehouse that was located at 2122 North Clark Street. It was here, on Valentine's Day 1929, that the most spectacular mob hit in gangland history took place the St. Valentine's Day Massacre.
The bloody events of February 14, 1929 began nearly five years before with the murder of Dion O’Banion, the leader of Chicago’s north side mob. At that time, control of bootleg liquor in the city raged back and forth between the North Siders, run by O’Banion, and the south side Outfit, which was controlled by Johnny Torrio and his henchman, Al Capone. In November 1924, Torrio ordered the assassination of O’Banion and started an all-out war in the city. The North Siders retaliated soon afterward and nearly killed Torrio outside of his home. This brush with death led to him leaving the city and turning over operations to Capone, who was almost killed himself in September 1926. The following month, Capone shooters assassinated Hymie Weiss, who had been running the north side mob after the death of O’Banion. His murder left the operation in the hands of George “Bugs” Moran, a long-time enemy of Capone. For the most part, Moran stood alone against the Capone mob, since most of his allies had succumbed in the fighting. He continued to taunt his powerful enemy and looked for ways to destroy him.
    In early 1929, Moran sided with Joe Aiello in another attack against Capone. He and Aiello reportedly gunned down Pasquillano Lolordo, one of Capone’s men, and Capone vowed that he would have him wiped out on February 14. He was living on his estate outside of Miami at the time and put in a call to Chicago. Capone had a very special “valentine” that we wanted delivered to Moran.

    Through a contact in Detroit, Capone arranged for someone to call Moran and tell him that a special shipment of hijacked whiskey was going to be delivered to one of Moran’s garages on the north side. Adam Heyer, a friend of Moran, owned the garage and it was used as a distribution point for north side liquor. A sign on the front of the building at 2122 North Clark Street read “S-M-C Cartage Co. Shipping - Packing - Long Distance Hauling”. Moran received the call at the garage on the morning of February 13 and he arranged to be there to meet the truck the next day.
    On the morning of February 14, a group of Moran’s men gathered at the Clark Street garage. One of the men was Johnny May, an ex-safecracker who had been hired by Moran as an auto mechanic. He was working on a truck that morning, with his dog, a German Shepherd named Highball, tied to the bumper. In addition, six other men waited for the truck of hijacked whiskey to arrive. The men were Frank and Pete Gusenberg, who were supposed to meet Moran and pick up two empty trucks to drive to Detroit and pick up smuggled Canadian whiskey; James Clark, Moran's brother-in-law; Adam Heyer; Al Weinshank; and Reinhardt Schwimmer, a young optometrist who had befriended Moran and hung around the liquor warehouse just for the thrill of rubbing shoulders with gangsters.
    George Moran was already late for the morning meeting. He was due to arrive at 10:30 but didn't even leave for the rendezvous, in the company of Willie Marks and Ted Newberry, until several minutes after that. As the seven men waited inside of the warehouse, they had no idea that a police car had pulled up outside, or that Moran had spotted the car as he was driving south on Clark Street and rather than deal with what he believed was a shakedown, stopped at the next corner for a cup of coffee.
    Five men got out of the police car, two of them in uniforms and three in civilian clothing. They entered the building and a few moments later, the clatter of machine gun fire broke the stillness of the snowy morning. Soon after, five figures emerged and they drove away. May's dog, inside of the warehouse, began barking and howling.
    The landlady in the next building, Mrs. Jeanette Landesman, was bothered by the sound of the dog and she sent one of her boarders, C.L. McAllister, to the garage to see what was going on. He came outside two minutes later, his face a pale white color. He ran frantically up the stairs to beg Mrs. Landesman to call the police. He cried that the garage was full of dead men!
    The police were quickly summoned and on entering the garage, were stunned by the carnage. Moran's men had been lined up against the rear wall of the garage and had been sprayed with machine-guns. Pete Gusenberg had died kneeling, slumped over a chair. James Clark had fallen on his face with half of his head blown away and Heyer, Schwimmer, Weinshank and May were thrown lifeless onto their backs. Only one of the men survived the slaughter and he lived for only a few hours. Frank Gusenberg had crawled from the blood-sprayed wall where he had fallen and dragged himself into the middle of the dirty floor. He was rushed to the Alexian Brothers Hospital, barely hanging on. Police sergeant Clarence Sweeney, who had grown up on the same street as Gusenberg, leaned down close to Frank and asked who had shot him. “No one --- nobody shot me,” he groaned and he died later that night.
    The death toll of the massacre stood at seven but the killers had missed Moran. When the police contacted him later and told him what had happened at the garage, he “raved like a madman”. To the newspapers, Moran targeted Capone as ordering the hit. The authorities claimed to be baffled though, since Capone was in Florida at the time of the massacre. When he was asked to comment on the news, Capone stated, "the only man who kills like that is Bugs Moran". At the same time, Moran was proclaiming that "only Capone kills guys like that".

    And Moran was undoubtedly right. The murders broke the power of the north side gang and while there have been many claims as to who the actual shooters were that day, most likely they included John Scalise, Albert Anselmi and "Machine Gun" Jack McGurn, all of whom were some of Capone's most trusted men. All three men, along with Joseph Guinta, were arrested but McGurn had an alibi and Scalise and Guinta were killed before they could be tried.
   The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre marked the end of any significant gang opposition to Capone but it was also the act that finally began the decline of Capone’s criminal empire. He had just gone too far and the authorities, and even Capone's adoring public, were ready to put an end to the bootleg wars.
    Perhaps the strangest bit of history in regards to the massacre involved the fact that Capone had not seen the last of one of the men killed on that fateful day. In May 1929, Capone slipped out of town to avoid the heat that was still coming down from the massacre and to avoid being suspected in the deaths of several of the men believed responsible for the killing of the Moran gang. While in Philadelphia, he and his bodyguard, Frankie Rio, were picked up on charges of carrying concealed weapons and were sentenced to a year in prison. They eventually ended up in the Eastern State Penitentiary.
     Capone continued to conduct business from prison. He was given a private cell and allowed to make long-distance telephone calls from the warden’s office and to meet with his lawyers and with Frank Nitti, Jake Guzik and his brother, Ralph, all of whom made frequent trips to Philadelphia. He was released two months early on good behavior and when he returned to Chicago, he found himself branded “Public Enemy Number One”. It was while he was incarcerated in Pennsylvania that Capone first began to be haunted by the ghost of James Clark, one of the massacre victims and the brother-in-law of George Moran. While in prison, other inmates reported that they could hear Capone screaming in his cell, begging “Jimmy” to go away and leave him alone.
    After Capone returned to Chicago, he took up residence at the Lexington Hotel and while here, would report his most frequent encounters with the ghost. While living at the Lexington Hotel, there were many times when Capone’s men would hear from begging for the specter to leave him in peace. On several occasions, bodyguards broke into his rooms, fearing that someone had gotten to their boss. Capone would then tell them of Clark’s ghost.
    Whether the ghost was real or not, Capone certainly believed that he was. The crime boss even went so far as to contact a psychic named Alice Britt to get rid of Clark’s angry spirit. Not long after a séance was conducted to try and rid Capone of the vengeful spirit, Hymie Cornish, Capone’s personal valet also believed that he saw the ghost. He entered the lounge of Capone’s apartment and spotted a tall man standing near the window. He demanded to know the man’s identity but the shadowy figure slipped behind a curtain and out of sight. Cornish immediately summoned two of his employer’s bodyguards but a search of the room revealed there was no one there but Al Capone, who continued to insist the figure had been Jimmy Clark.
    Years later, Capone would also insist that Jimmy Clark followed him to the grave.
    Chicago, in its own style, memorialized the warehouse on Clark Street. The place became a tourist attraction and the newspapers even printed the photos of the corpses upside-down so that readers would not have to turn their papers around to identify the bodies. In 1949, the front portion of the S-M-G Garage was turned into an antique furniture storage business by a couple who had no idea of the building's bloody past. They soon found that the place was visited much more by tourists and curiosity-seekers than by customers and eventually closed the business. In 1967, the building was demolished. However, the bricks from the bullet-marked rear wall were purchased and saved by a Canadian businessman. In 1972, he opened a night club with a Roaring 20's theme and rebuilt the wall, for some strange reason, in the men's restroom. Three nights each week, women were allowed to peek inside at this macabre attraction.

    The club continued to operate for a few years and when it closed the owner placed the 417 bricks into storage. He then offered them for sale with a written account of the massacre. He sold the bricks for $1000 each, but soon found that he was getting back as many as he sold. It seemed that anyone who bought one of the bricks was suddenly stricken with bad luck in the form of illness, financial ruin, divorce and even death. According to the stories, the bricks themselves had somehow been infested with the powerful negative energy of the massacre! Whatever became of the rest of the bricks is unknown.
Or that's what the legend says....
    In recent years, other bricks have emerged that claim to have come from the wall. These were not bricks purchased from Patey but were smuggled out of the lot by construction workers and curiosity-seekers. It was said that from these bricks come the legends of misfortune and bad luck. Are these bricks authentic? The owners say they are -- but you'll have to judge for yourself!
    Whatever the legend of the bricks themselves and whether or not they have somehow been "haunted" by what happened, there is little doubt about the site on Clark Street itself. Even today, people walking along the street at night have reported the sounds of screams and machine guns as they pass the site. The building is long gone but the area is marked as a fenced-off lawn that belongs to the nearby nursing home. Five trees are scattered along the place in a line and the one in the middle marks the location where the rear wall once stood. Passerby often report these strange sounds and the indescribable feeling of fear as they walk past. Those who are accompanied by dogs report their share of strangeness too.... Animals appear to be especially bothered by this piece of lawn, sometimes barking and howling, sometimes whining in fear. Their sense of what happened here many years ago seems to be much greater than our own.

Lingering spirits of Flight 191. Before September 11, 2001, the worst airline-related disaster in American history occurred on Memorial Day weekend on Friday May 25, 1979. When American Airlines Flight 191 literally fell from the sky, killing all of the 271 passengers and crew on board.

    It was a beautiful holiday weekend in Chicago and throngs of people filled O’Hare International, the world’s busiest airport. The passengers of Flight 191, including a number of Chicago literary figures who were bound for Los Angeles and the annual American Booksellers Association conference, boarded the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 shortly before 3:00 in the afternoon. There seemed to be nothing out of the ordinary about the flight. The DC-10 was a top of the line aircraft and this particular model had logged more than 20,000 trouble-free hours since it left the assembly line. The crew was top-notch as well, including Captain Walter Lux, a 22,000 hour pilot who had been flying DC-10’s since their introduction into service eight years before, and First Officer James Dillard and Flight Engineer Alfred Udovich, who had nearly 25,000 flight hours between them.
    At one minute before 3:00, the plane was cleared to begin its taxi to the runway’s holding point. Then, at 3:02 pm, Flight 191 started down the runway. All went smoothly until a point about 6,000 feet down the runway, just prior to rotation. The tower controller saw parts of the port engine pylon falling away from the aircraft and a "white vapor" coming from the area. A moment later, the aircraft pitched into rotation and lifted off. As it did so, the entire engine and pylon tore loose from its mounting, flipped up and over the wing and crashed down onto the runway.
   Immediately, the tower controller tried to raise the plan on the radio. "American 191, do you want to come back? If so, what runway do you want?"
    There was no reply from the aircraft but it proceeded to climb out normally, only dipping the left wing for a moment. It quickly stabilized and the plane continued its descent. About ten seconds later though, at a height of around 300 feet, the aircraft began to bank to the left, first slightly, then sharply. The nose of the plane dipped and as the aircraft began to lose height, the bank to left increased until the wings were past vertical then it fell to the earth!
    The left wingtip hit the ground first and the rip of the metal was followed by a massive explosion that erupted throughout the plane. The fireball went down about a half mile northwest of O’Hare and slammed into an abandoned hangar on the site of the old Ravenswood Airport on Touhy Avenue, just east of a mobile home park. It was mostly vacant ground, although the plane narrowly missed some fuel storage tanks on Elmhurst Road and the busy I-90 Expressway. However, 2 people were killed on the ground and several homes were damaged in the trailer park. As for the crew and passengers on the aircraft --- all 271 of them had been killed instantly.
    The enormity of the tragedy was felt throughout the country and people everywhere demanded answers from the airline, the airport and the National Transportation Safety Board. How could something like this have happened? It is a standard in the industry for planes to be able to finish a flight with only one engine, so how did the loss of one engine seal the fate of Flight 191? The long and grueling investigation that followed revealed a stress crack in a flange that held the engine pylon, flawed maintenance methods and a problem with the supposedly serviceable DC-10. These answers were long in coming but even when they came, did not solve the mysteries that were plaguing Chicagoans who lived in the vicinity of the crash.
    Ghostly tales soon began to spring up about the site. According to Des Plaines police officers, motorists began reporting odd sights within a few months of the crash. They called in about seeing odd, bobbing white lights in the field where the aircraft had gone down. First thought to be flashlights that were carried by ghoulish souvenir hunters, officers responded to the reports to find the field was silent and deserted. No one was ever found, despite patrols arriving on the scene almost moments after receiving a report.
    More unnerving though were the accounts that came from the residents of the nearby mobile home, which was adjacent to the crash site. Many of these reports came within hours of the crash, when residents claimed to hear knocking and rapping sounds at their doors and windows. Those who responded, including a number of retirees and off-duty police and firefighters, opened their doors to find no one was there. Dogs in the trailer park would bark endlessly at the empty field where the plane had gone down. Their masters could find no reason for their erratic behavior. This continued for weeks and months and even escalated to the point that doorknobs were being turned and rattled, footsteps were heard approaching the trailers, clanging on the metal stairs, and on some occasions, actual figures were confronted. According to some reports, a few residents opened their doors to find a worried figure who stated that he "had to get his luggage" or "had to make a connection" standing on their porch. The figure then turned and vanished into the darkness.
    The tragedy, and the strange events that followed, caused many of the residents to move out of the park but when new arrivals took their place, they too began to report the weird happenings. A fairly recent sighting was described by a man who was walking his dog one night near the area where Flight 191 went down. He was approached by a young man who explained that he needed to make an emergency telephone call. The man with his dog looked at this person curiously for he seemed to reek of gasoline and also appeared to be smoldering. At first, he just assumed the man had been running on this chilly night and steam was coming from his clothing, but when he turned away to point out a nearby phone and then turned back again --- the man had vanished! The man with the dog had heard stories from other local residents about moans and weird cries emanating from the 1979 crash site but he never believed them until now. He was now convinced that he had encountered one of the restless passengers from Flight 191 for himself!
    And he’s likely not the only one, for the stories of weird knockings, inexplicable sounds and even apparitions continue to this day. One long-standing incident, which is often repeated, comes from the terminal at O’Hare itself. According to travelers, many have purported to see a man making a telephone call from a booth that is located close to the departure gate that was used by Flight 191. Those who have seen him say that is quite normal-looking, except for the fact that his business attire seems oddly out of date. He allegedly steps away from the telephone booth, manages a few steps and then vanishes into thin air. Is he one of the doomed passengers from Flight 191 --- or another phantom altogether?

And finally the last story of the post, The Trolley of Death. In 1950 the fates of 33 people were tragically changed because of a rainstrom. On the night of May 24, a sudden and torrential downpour flooded the 63rd street underpassat State Street, making the road impassable for the electric CTA trolley cars. No one knew what horrific events would follow this rainstorm or how simply missing a signal would send the occupants of a Green Hornet Trolley along a path of no return.
    During the first half of the Twentieth Century, electric streetcars were a familiar sight on Chicago streets. Trolleys had first appeared in the Windy City, pulled by horses, back in 1859. By the 1890’s, electricity had replaced the horses and the cars began to travel along steel rails that had been fitted into the city streets. The system was so popular that during World War I, Chicago operated the largest streetcar operation in the country.
    And while many riders relied on the trolleys to get them to and from work each day and to allow them to travel throughout the city, the vehicles did have their drawbacks. The most obvious problem was that they lacked the ability to maneuver around accidents and flooded areas, causing the cars to have to be diverted to alternate routes. For this reason, among others, trolleys were eventually replaced by buses.
   The fact that the trolleys were unable to change routes with ease would later lead to the "worst loss of life involving a motor vehicle in America".
   On the morning of Thursday, May 25, the low-lying underpass at State Street remained flooded with rain water from the storm and so throughout that day, a flagman detoured southbound cars to a turnaround track on the east side of State Street, making 63rd Street the temporary end of the line. By rush hour, the area remained closed but this fact was apparently missed by the driver of the Green Hornet, Paul Manning. The trolley that he was driving was known for being one of the newest and sleekest vehicles on the CTA line and it was in perfect working order. Only a terrible mistake could be blamed for what happened that night.
    Manning was driving the Green Hornet at a speed that was estimated to be about 35 m.p.h., which was considered to be dangerously fast for the wet conditions. The CTA flagman was still in place at 62nd, one block north of the turnaround, and when he saw Manning’s trolley come into view, he frantically began signaling the driver to slow down. Instead of slowing though, the streetcar continued speeding along the street. The flagman continued to wave and attempted to warn the driver that a switch in the track was open for a turn that would put the Green Hornet directly into the path of oncoming northbound travel.
    In the opposite lane, heading north, a semi-trailer truck that was driven by Mel Wilson was also quickly approaching the viaduct. The semi-truck happened to be hauling 8,000 gallons of gasoline that was destined for south side filling stations.
    How Manning failed to see the flagman’s signal is unknown, but we do know that he was unaware of the closed underpass and also unaware of the open switch that was being used to bypass the trolleys. It’s likely that he simply thought that the car would clip right along on the route that he normally took. However, when the trolley hit the open switch track, it violently swung to the left, throwing the passengers aboard to the floor. Manning was last seen throwing up his hands and screaming in terror as the streetcar hurled through the intersection and rammed into the tanker truck. The impact ripped open the tanker’s steel skin, creating a shower of sparks that immediately ignited the gasoline that was now flooding onto the street. The two vehicles erupted into a single fireball and incinerated the trolley.
    At the time of the accident, every seat on the Green Hornet had been filled. The aisles had been filled with the people who had been jolted by the sudden turn and they suddenly felt the tremendous heat as the fire swept through the car. In the terror and confusion that followed, the trapped and charred victims pushed against the side doors, but they refused to open. The windows were covered with steel bars, making them useless as an escape route. Somehow, 30 people managed to crawl away from the scene, leaving 33 others behind to die. Those fortunate few who survived were all treated for severe burns at Provident Hospital.
    Meanwhile, the explosion shook the entire neighborhood and the flames soared two and three stories high. The burning gasoline managed to engulf seven buildings on State Street and the fire was so hot that it twisted metal, fused windows and melted sections of asphalt on the street. The walls of several of the buildings collapsed, although the occupants managed to escape. Drivers who had been lined up in traffic were able to leave unharmed as well.
    More than 30 fire companies were called to the scene and it took more than two hours to get the worst of the fire under control. It would be a long time before a sense of calm could be restored to the area though and the smell of scorched flesh hung in the air long after the debris was cleared away. According to newspaper reports, as many as 20,000 people lined the streets, craning to catch a glimpse of the fire, the destroyed vehicles and the blackened bodies that were taken away to the morgue.
    It’s likely that some of the emergency workers who had to deal with the carnage would have gladly traded places with the curiosity-seekers. When they forced open the rear doors of the trolley, they were met with a ghastly scene. "In some cases we found only the skulls and parts of limbs," Fire Marshall Albert Peterson later recalled. "We had to remove all of them and make a temporary morgue on the sidewalk."
    A number of the passengers escaped the trolley thanks to a 14 year-old girl who had thought quickly enough to pull down a red safety knob that opened the center doors. However, the rear doors had no such device and were in fact designed to be entry doors only, not opening from the inside. This created a bottleneck when the panicked passengers tried to get out of them. When the firefighters had opened the doors, they found a mass of bodies that had been literally fused together by the heat.
    In the investigation that followed, it was found that the Green Hornet had been in perfect working order, as had the gasoline truck. Mel Wilson, the driver of the truck, had also been burned to death in the accident. Most pointed fingers of blame at Paul Manning, who had been involved in 10 minor accidents during his career, but the real problems were the design flaws in the trolley itself. These included the lack of safety pulls (now standard equipment on buses and elevated lines), the steel bars that blocked an emergency escape through the windows and doors that would not open from either side. It took the senseless slaughter of 33 innocent victims to learn what should have been a simple lesson from the start.
    In the years that followed the Green Hornet crash, trolleys slowly began to disappear from Chicago streets and were replaced by buses. The final run of a Green Hornet trolley took place on June 21, 1958 and another chapter closed in Chicago’s history of disasters.







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