Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

Bachelor's Grove Cemetery is a largely abandoned cemetery located in unincorporated Bremen Twp. of Cook County. Believers in ghosts and ghost stories typically flock to the area in search of the paranormal, and numerous apparitions and ghosts sightings have apparently occurred in the cemetery. 

It dates back to when the area was first settled, in the 1820's to 1840's, which is a similar timeline as many areas in Chicago's suburbs, which were opened to white settlers in 1804, which was the main conflict of the Black Hawk War.

The cemetery is in very poor condition. Many of the graves are either weathered or vandalized beyond recognition.

I think the reports of paranormal activity at the site largely derives from its condition. In addition its location, which is located on an old alignment of Midlothian Turnpike, makes it impossible to access via car, however, it is quite easily accessible via a short walk through the forest. This has made it a popular spot for vandals and teenagers, and contributed to its reputation as a scary place. 

Located at the bottom of this topo map from 1928 (immediately left of Midlothian)

This is somewhat similar to St. Patrick Cemetery, which exists on the original alignment of Bluff Road in unincorporated Lemont, which was closed when Argonne National Laboratory was built. That is a much longer walk, but also is in much better condition, and while I've heard ghost stories about St. Patrick, there doesn't seem to be nearly as many stories in comparison to Bachelor's Grove.

Here's a better view of where the cemetery is located; Midlothian Road is now aligned onto 143rd St, which didn't exist in 1928. Thus the entrance to the cemetery is only accessible via the Forest Preserve trail, which uses the old road as a trail.

For the believers among you though, numerous accounts of paranormal activity and hauntings in the place make for some interesting blogs, if nothing else. There's even a book devoted to what has apparently occurred there, called Haunted Bachelor's Grove. I don't personally believe in ghosts, at least in the paranormal sense, so my visit was mainly focused on the condition of the cemetery, and the adjacent original alignment of Midlothian Road.

Somewhat ironically, as a result of its abandonment and condition, the history of the cemetery is quite well documented, and even a has a "research center" devoted to the cemetery, which is where much of the history of this blog comes from. So, as much of the history of this cemetery has largely been documented, this blog is going to focus on more of my own experience in the cemetery. 

The best (and only, really) place to park near the cemetery is in the adjacent Rubio Woods, which is on the north side of Midlothian Tpke. 

Visiting the cemetery on a chilly day, I experienced nothing out of the ordinary, other than the blighted state that much of the cemetery exists in today. With that said, there is so much growth in the adjacent forest that only a few feet into the trail, one gets a sense of otherworldliness that is somewhat tempered by the fact that you can plainly hear traffic on 143rd St/Midlothian, as you never delve too far away from the traffic.

I probably wouldn't do this at night, more for my fear of others as opposed to a fear of ghosts.

The cemetery is open and legal to access between sunrise and sunset, although there probably isn't a whole lot stopping someone from visiting at night. There's only one way in and out of the cemetery, despite the path inside the cemetery continuing onto both ends of the property; but the path to the north ends at a swamp.

There are at least two "Moss" graves in Bachelor's Grove.

One of a minority of graves that appear to be in good condition in the cemetery.

Bachelor's Grove is one of the oldest cemeteries in the Chicago area, and this is evident from its small size. It is one of hundreds of abandoned, or nearly abandoned, cemeteries across the United States, which we map on our Ghost Towns, Abandoned Places and Historic Sites map. As time has gone on, cemeteries have evolved from relatively small burial plots, usually located on or near church property, into much larger parcels of land. 

A driving factor in cemetery size in the Chicago area comes from the fact that there was an ordinance which did not permit cemetery construction in the city, meaning large cemeteries were built just outside the city limits. 

This also had the effect of creating demand for funeral trains to transport passengers to and from cemeteries. Since Bachelor's Grove dates back to before the railroad industry, it never grew beyond its relatively small plot.

While the City of Chicago incorporated land which housed some of these cemeteries, many are still outside of the jurisdiction of the city, meaning some of the inner-ring suburbs have a much larger population of dead individuals that live ones. 

A base of a monument that has been knocked down.

The burials in the cemetery also reflect the nature of the citizens at the time, many of whom had moved westward from New England, particularly from upstate New York and Vermont.

The cemetery has been known, and been recorded as, many different names throughout its life, but by and large has been known as Bachelor's Grove through the vast majority of it. There are two main theories as to the etymology of this name: it derives from the Batchelder family, who were among the original settlers of the area, or that it simply came from the large number of single, mostly male, immigrants to the area, who would work on the railroads, canals, and other infrastructure projects in the early to mid-19th century.

There are plenty of vandalized or otherwise broken graves in the cemetery, and many of the monuments are completely illegible.

The same projects would ultimately be why the cemetery, and the area as a settlement, would be  abandoned in the first place, along with nearby Goeselville, located southwest of the cemetery along the former Midlothian Turnpike, and part of Oak Forest today. Like many roads in the Chicago area, particularly those which don't follow a grid, Midlothian Turnpike was an old Native American trail, which eventually became incorporated into the area road network.

The red line is the former Midlothian Turnpike as I can best trace it. You can see the cemetery, and the Goeselville area in this satellite image.

In 1852, the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad began service between Chicago and Joliet, along a right of way that about three miles south of the cemetery, in a time before the automobile, and so development relocated closer to the train tracks, creating somewhat of a ghost town out of Bachelor's Grove.

When Midlothian Road was relocated in the 1960's, the cemetery became quite isolated, and it was around this time and the following decade in which much of the vandalism associated with the cemetery occurred, which is also the same time burials stopped, with the last body resting there in 1965; and a cremation added to a family plot in 1989. (Bachelor's Grove History).

This is ultimately the scariest part of the walk; as you have to cross Midlothian Turnpike. It's not a pedestrian friendly area, to put it mildly.

I decided to try something fairly new for this blog and make a YouTube video of my visit to the cemetery, so with that I'll sign off here. Thanks as always for reading!


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