Chicagoland's Most Famous Ghost
by: Joey Tito
Stories of phantom hitchhikers are ever-present in the deep rooted history of American ghost stories, but none of them compare to the story of Resurrection Mary. I remember hearing the stories of Resurrection Mary as a young child from my father and grandfather. In fact, I remember my grandfather took my brother, cousins and I to Resurrection Cemetery to visit the graves of some family members many years ago. On the ride to the cemetery he told us short renditions of Mary’s story. I was intrigued with the whole concept of Resurrection Mary and would continue to look forward to not only hearing her stories from others, but to also research the facts and testimonies put forth by eye witness accounts. Now it's time for me to share some of those stories with you. So if you haven’t done so already, sit back and relax as I take you along for the ride in search of Chicagoland’s most famous ghost, Resurrection Mary.
Mary's story began way back in the 1930's and still holds strong today. Mary was accompanied by her boyfriend at a dance held at the Oh Henry Ballroom, also referred to as the O'Henry or O Henry Ballroom, located at 8900 South Archer Avenue in Willow Springs Illinois. At some point during that evening the two of them were believed to have engaged in an argument, which led Mary to walk out of the ballroom and begin hitchhiking down Archer Avenue. Not long after her departure, she was struck and killed by a hit and run driver somewhere between the Oh Henry Ballroom and the main gates of Resurrection Cemetery. It was not long after her death that the sightings of a young blonde haired girl in a white dress walking up and down Archer Avenue have been reported.
The story of the encounter Jerry Palus had stands out as one of the best and most credible, at least in my opinion. His story begins in 1939 at the Liberty Grove & Hall near 47th and Mozart where he claimed to have danced the night away with a particular girl one evening. He recalled that she was very cold to the touch, which he immediately felt was strange. As the night carried on she asked Jerry for a ride home, which happened to be in the neighborhood I grew up in and still hold residence, Bridgeport. Once they got in Jerry’s car she asked if they could go for a ride to Resurrection Cemetery. Jerry obliged the request and the two of them were on their way for a ride down Archer Avenue. As they came close to the main gates of the cemetery, Jerry recalled that the girl began acting very strange. She told him to pull off the side of the road so she could get out of the car run toward the cemetery to take care of something. She told Jerry that he could not follow her. Puzzled and trying to grasp what he just heard, Jerry said that she had bolted from the car and began running toward the main gates of the cemetery where she disappeared before his very eyes moments prior to reaching the gates. After piecing the evening events together, he realized that he had been with a ghost that evening. A short time after this ghostly encounter, Jerry made his way to the home of the young lady whom he had danced the night away with. When he got to the doorstep he was greeted by a woman. Jerry noticed a picture on the inside of the house that was on top of a table near the door and asked the woman if the young lady in the picture was home. The woman looked at him in a state of confusion and told him that the girl in the picture was her daughter and that she has been dead for quite some time. Jerry was absolutely convinced that the girl in that photo was the girl he picked up that evening.
Resurrection Mary is not only seen walking up and down Archer Avenue, she was once seen inside the cemetery. This notorious event took place on August 10, 1976 where a traveling motorist noticed what appeared to be a young woman locked inside the cemetery as he passed by the front gates. He phoned into the Justice Police Department and gave his statement, which prompted Officer Pat Homa to arrive on the scene at 10:30pm to investigate. He pulled out his flashlight and began shining it inside the cemetery looking for this supposedly trapped person. He even got on the loud horn and called out to her, but did not receive an answer. Upon further investigation, Officer Homa panned his flashlight at the front gates of the cemetery and noticed that two of the bars were bent apart. As he looked closely he noticed that there appeared to be hand prints as well as possible skin texture embedded in the metal bars. On the surface of the green patina of the bronze were scorch marks that gave off the appearance of skin texture. These marks were later shown to various experts, including metallurgists as well as copper and bronze experts, but nobody could clearly explain how the bars were bent. In 1977 the cemetery caretakers had the metal bars blowtorched in an attempt to clear the bars of the scorch marks. They were successful in doing so, but the impressions embedded in the metal still remained. Word spread about the bars and sure enough, more people came to the cemetery to examine them. This prompted the cemetery staff to cut out the bars and hide them away to keep away the curious minds. The staff also said that the bars were disfigured due to a front end loader truck bumping into the gates while doing repair work on the property. Those bars were straightened out and placed back in their original position, but to this day you can still see where the impressions were left due to the cracking and aging of the paint.
The true identity of Resurrection Mary has never clearly been pin pointed. Some believe that this phantom hitchhiker is Mary Bregovy, who was killed in an automobile accident on March 10. 1934. The setback with her story is that it doesn't coincide with the events that took place in the popular Resurrection Mary story. Bregovy was in an automobile with three other passengers when that automobile collided with an L train support structure on Wacker Drive in downtown Chicago, killing her on the spot. One of the passengers was taken to the hospital with what was said to be a skull fracture, the other passengers escaped being shaken up with some scratches. Bregovy was not killed by a hit and run driver while hitchhiking down Archer Avenue like the popular Resurrection Mary stories are told. Bregovy had short brunette hair which ultimately rivals the stories told of Resurrection Mary, as she is described as a female with long blonde hair. She was also buried wearing an orchid colored dress, which is a vast difference from the white dress that has been reported by eye witnesses that encountered Resurrection Mary. Is it possible to state that there are too many inconsistencies to deem Mary Bregovy Resurrection Mary? With that question posed, who is she? There have been other reports that state Resurrection Mary is Mary Miskowski of South Damen Avenue. She fits the mold of the description given to Resurrection Mary as a beautiful, young, blonde haired female. Coincidentally, her residence was just a few blocks away from the Bregovy Residence. To make things even more fitting, she was killed by a hit and run motorist while on her way to a Halloween party in October 1930. She was dressed as a bride that evening. It has also been said that Mary Miskowski was buried in a term grave at Resurrection Cemetery, much like Mary Bregovy. Could she be the apparition that has reportedly been seen since the 1930's?
If these stories interest you to the point where you feel the need to take a trip to Chicago and travel down Archer Avenue in pursuit of the infamous Resurrection Mary, let me lend you some advice. Do not trespass into this cemetery after hours and keep an eye out for any looming blonde haired hitchhikers down this road. If you do in fact pick up a blonde haired young lady, beware. You may be in for the ride of your life...