Bachelor's Grove Cemetery
Hidden in the trees between Harlem Avenue and the Midlothian Turnpike (143rd Street) lies a mysterious location known as Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery. Bachelor’s Grove is within Rubio Woods, a forest preserve in the southwestern part of the Midlothian suburbs. The cemetery is a small spot in Rubio Woods, surrounded by trees, ponds, and now under protection of Midlothian Forest Preserve Police. Most people do not even realize Bachelors’ existence; but most locals know the cemetery for its multiple reports of paranormal activity. Although Bachelor’s Grove has been forgotten for decades, this location is abundant with ghost stories, local lore, and even some historical evidence.
Backstory and Context
Presently, Bachelor’s Grove is now a magnet for the “paranormal” and a home for the forgotten spirits who still roam the cemetery, according to legend. Established Circa 1840, the small graveyard of about 82 plots was one of the earliest settlements in Illinois. Mostly settlers and even Russian railroad workers began to fill the graveyard; until 1920 were reports of gangland activities included dumping bodies in the grove and nearby murky waters of the forest.One of the most notorious Chicagoland gang leaders is Al Capone. Originally from New York, Capone moved his crimewave over to the bustling city of Chicago around the 1920s. Capone’s “activities” included bootlegging alcohol, gambling, and eliminating any rival gangs in the Southside Chicago area. According to folklore and historical timing, Al Capone was known as “Public Enemy #1” during his reign between the 20s’ until his death in 1947. Subsequently, Capone lived on Chicago’s Southside protected from the public and rival gang members. Lore has it that Capone and his goons took bodies and dumped them in the pond adjacent to the cemetery. According to local reporter, Edward Shanahan “It has been written that no legal authority has found anything to back the allegations that the pond at Bachelor's Grove Cemetery was an Al Capone dumping ground for bodies” (Shanahan, 1).
Over the centuries, Bachelor’s Grove has been an attraction for tourist, robbers, and ghost hunters. All wanting to find something in the cemetery; be it a ghost orb or a poor soul’s last valuables. What most people do not know is Bachelor’s Grove was made famous by Chicago historian Richard T. Crowe; who passed in 2012. Crowe had a B.A. and M.A. in English arts and taught at Lourdes High School; before becoming a City Hall city planner. Crowe was fascinated with Chicago’s History and focused more on the lore and ghost stories. On October 27, 1973 Crowe held his first “Chicago Haunted Tour” which was a sellout. Bachelor’s Grove being on the visiting list, Crowe put down the blueprints and became infatuated on doing haunted tours and studying the paranormal of historical events.
Back in 2014, the Cook County Forest Preserve Department decided to do a cleanup of the cemetery. Bachelor’s Grove was in shambles; the ground was eroded, graves were destroyed and vandalized, pollution ruined the landscape, and people began trespassing and were either lost or injured at dusk. Today, Bachelor’s Grove is technically open to the public, but is still under close watch by local police. In reality the cemetery has more or less turned into a nature trail covered by grass and ivy. To this day people still are interested in finding “ghosts” wandering around the grove. Despite all the ghost stories and “hauntings” at Bachelor’s Grove, there is no real threat but only twisting an ankle on the uneven grounds. Bachelor’s Grove is more of an attraction than its original intention, but thanks to local police we are able to preserve and enjoy what is left. Of course, we all are still looking to find something out of this world.
Shanahan, Edward. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery biggest little secret. ChicagoNow. March 23, 2017. March 21, 2019. http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-paranormal-and-spiritual/2017/03/bachelors-grove-cemetery-biggest-little-secret/.
Johnson, Ray. Richrd T Crowe. findagrave. June 11, 2012. March 21, 2019. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/91554085/richard-t-crowe.
Channel, History. Al Capone. HISTORY. . March 21, 2019. https://www.history.com/topics/crime/al-capone.