Chicago is known for being a ghost town, and many stories are passed down from one generation to the next. Many of the stories are based on schools or houses that don't exist now, and no record can be found of them. But others tell stories of people who have seen and heard paranormal activity to verify the accounts. Here are Chicago's top three ghost stories:
Red Lion Pub
It's known as Chicago's most haunted pub and has caught the attention of historian, ghost hunter, and author Ursula Bielski. Through her research of the Red Lion Pub, she has uncovered several ghosts there. One is a woman from the 1920s; the others are a mentally handicapped girl, a cowboy, and a man with a beard. When Dan Danforth owned the building, he would allow businessmen to come meet the ghosts until it was sold to Colin Cordwell. While most of the ghosts are said to have died in the building, the stained glass window that Colin put on the wall as a memorial to his father, John Cordwell, has been noted as supernatural by Colin and some of his patrons.
And to add some more history to these claims is late Chicago ghost hunter Richard T. Crowe. While visiting the Red Lion Pub, he heard screams from a woman, but when the locked door was opened, no one was there.
In 1999, "The Eric and Kathy Show" on 101.9 FM did a seance at the Red Lion and discovered the cowboy, a woman who had a seizure, Dan Danforth, John Cordwell, and two gambling men.
Resurrection Mary is one of Chicago's most famed ghosts. The story begins at the O'Henry Ballroom in Willow Springs, Illinois, where Mary and her boyfriend were supposedly spending the evening when they began fighting. After arguing, Mary decided to walk home in the cold instead of hitching a ride with her boyfriend. As she was walking along Archer Avenue, she was killed in a hit-and-run car accident. She was then buried at the Resurrection Cemetery in Justice, Illinois, thus earning her name, Resurrection Mary.
While it parallels other ghost stories, Crowe gathered reports detailing the encounters people have had over the years. In 1976, the Justice Police were even called to the scene with a report that a girl was locked inside the cemetery. In 1939, a man named Jerry Palus said he gave Mary a ride that evening and even shared a kiss with her before she had him drop her off on Archer Avenue in front of Resurrection Cemetery.
South Side's "80 Acres of Hell"
Ghost stories usually begin with murder and torture, and this account is no exception. In 1862, Camp Douglas became a prisoner-of-war camp for Confederate prisoners. Known for its inhumane conditions, Camp Douglas earned its new title, "80 Acres of Hell." Although there are no exact numbers of deaths, the figure is estimated to be over 3,000. The deaths were from small pox, living conditions, scurvy, and starvation. The camp was closed in 1865, but the damage was done, and ghost stories began emerging. Over the years and to this day, residents of the Lake Meadows Condominiums on the site have reported screams and marching men and smelled death.
Janoa Taylor is a freelance writer with a background in business and finance. She offers a unique local perspective gained from years as a Chicago resident.