The second in a series of ghost-related posts from my website.
The story begins at the O’Henry Ballroom, now called the Willowbrook, where a young girl accompanied her date to a dance. At some point they argued and the girl left, opting to walk home or hitchhike, in spite of the cold winter evening. Not very far from the dance, she was killed by a hit and run accident. Her murder remains unsolved, and due to the numerous sightings of the ghost nicknamed Resurrection Mary, it appears her soul is doomed to suffer the same fate for eternity. The Justice police department has since received phone calls and visits from frantic drivers for a variety of reasons. Some have encountered her in the manner of hitting her with their car, even hearing the sickening thud of impact, only to get out and discover no one there. Some claim to have come across her and driven through her, and still others report a woman lying face down on the side of the road, yet when police investigate, she’s disappeared. Resurrection Mary doesn’t just haunt Archer Avenue, though. She’s turned up at the same dancing hall where she spent her last night alive, danced with unsuspecting gentlemen, even been kissed by a few, who have claimed the mysterious girl to be unusually aloof, and her skin icy cold to the touch.
In almost every case, these men have offered her a ride home, which she accepts. She directs them up Archer Avenue, only to vanish from the passenger seat as they pass the gates of Resurrection Cemetery, her not-so-final resting place. Among the eerier witness accounts is that of Jerry Palus in 1939. He danced with her, was one of those who kissed her, and gave her a ride home. She told him her address, but requested he drop her off at 7201 Archer Avenue. Upon arrival, and seeing the address to be that of Resurrection Cemetery, he reluctantly agreed, but only on the condition that she allow him to accompany her. She refused, and told him, “Where I’m going, you can’t follow.” Then, she quietly got out of the car and ran to the gates of the Cemetery, vanishing before she reached them.
Yet another spectacular event of note occurred on the night of August 10, 1976, for that was the night she left proof of her existence. A driver passed the Cemetery late that night and noticed a girl fitting the same description standing inside the gates. He went to the police station and reported seeing someone accidentally locked inside. The police were dispatched, and upon arrival, all that remained in the place where she stood was twisted, charred metal bars of the iron gates, and small hand prints seared into the metal. The Cemetery attempted to explain it away, saying it was the result of a truck backing into the gate, and even went so far as to temporarily remove the bars in an attempt to ward off spirit-seekers and gawkers. Supposedly, attempts to cover the hand prints and scorch marks proved futile, and eventually, the bars were removed for good.
Many want to know the identity of Resurrection Mary before her death, and while speculations are abundant, the favorite theory is a woman named Mary Bregovy. She was killed in an accident in 1934 and is buried in an unmarked grave next to her mother of the same name who passed away in 1922. While at first glance it may seem that all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, there’s flaws in this theory. It’s true she died in an accident, but it took place in downtown Chicago. The true Resurrection Mary is seen with blond hair, wearing white. Young Mary Bregovy was brunette, and was buried in an orchid or lavender dress instead.
A man named Frank Andrejasich suggested Mary was someone else altogether: Anna Mary Norkus, shy of thirteen years old by only a few hours, tragically killed in a car accident when her father took her out to celebrate. However, her description matches witness sightings. Furthermore, during this era in Chicago, general strikes might have put gravediggers out of work, according to this theory. (I couldn’t find any proof of this in my search of Chicago history online.) When this occurred during other times, the deceased were interred at Resurrection Cemetery until such time that they could be moved. Anna Mary Norkus was supposed to be laid to rest at St. Casimir Cemetery. If there was a strike, she could have been misplaced, and thus given a reason to continue to haunt Archer Avenue. She’s not at peace.
One that is not brought much is a Mary Rozanc, who died in December of 1930, two months before she turned sixteen. Not much evidence exists that I know of to support this.
Another possible Mary has come to my attention. According to witness accounts, Mary Miskowski died on or around Halloween, 1930, at the age of 18 or 19, having been hit by a car while going to a Halloween party, at which she was dressed as a bride in her mother’s old wedding dress. A blond herself, she would have matched the traditional description of Mary – a teenage blond girl in a white dress – far better than most other canditates (Mary Bregovy was a brunette, and Anna Norkus wasn’t quite 13). Finding solid information about Mary Miskowski is tough. Variant spellings of her name make it hard to pin down records about her. Though, a census record of her family exists that would have been taken shortly before her death in 1930. The death index lists a Mary Muchowksi as dying on November 5, 1930 – people familiar with digging through census records and stuff will know that for a record for “Miskowski” written in cursive to be typed in as Muchowski would hardly be unlikely (especially if they forgot to dot the i – just look at it above), and while there WAS a woman named Mary Muchowski in Chicago at the time, she didn’t die until the 1960s, making the Mary Muchowski death record from 1930 something of a ghost itself.
November 5 would be a few days after Halloween, but pretty close to it, as well. Her death does not appear to have made the papers, as Mary Bregovy and Anna Norkus’s did, though, which may be why it wasn’t until the recent stories have come to light that her name has been considered seriously as a candidate. The death index doesn’t list her date of birth, though, so theres no way to tell whether this is the same woman without getting a hold of the death certificate itself, but it is assumed that the record from 1930 refers to her.