Chicago is full of cemeteries both large and small, but no matter the size, most likely some of the graves in those cemeteries are haunted. Here are the haunted graves of the cemeteries on the North Side of Chicago and the stories behind them.
Graceland Cemetery didn’t yet exist at the time its oldest inhabits died. That’s because many of them were buried in the old Chicago City Cemetery near downtown. But in 1870, concerns over water contamination and epidemics resulted in the moving the burials from where Lincoln Park is now and to many cemeteries on the north side of town. Graceland Cemetery, located at 4100 North Clark Street, began in 1860 and at 120 acres, it’s one of Chicago’s largest and most beautiful cemeteries. Graceland is the home of many well known people, including Marshall Field, Allan Pinkerton, George Pullman, and Phillip D. Armour, just to name a few. But it’s the grave of Dexter Graves which gives its onlookers unpleasant pause. That’s because on top of his final resting place there stands a bronze memorial statue named Eternal Silence, designed by renown sculptor Lorado Taft. Graves was a hotel owner and early settler of Chicago. Why he chose such a foreboding and dark memorial is anyone’s guess, unless maybe he was a Cubs fan. As if the creepiness it instills in spectators is not enough, the Statue of Death, as it’s commonly referred to, has its own legend surrounding it. To gaze into the face of the statue is to catch a glimpse of your own death to come, or so says the folk stories. Over the years the once all black statue has worn down to the green metal underneath so that the hidden face is the only part still dark, its eyes the darkest of all for those who dare gaze into them.
Graceland Cemetery is also home to a haunted grave of a child wrapped in controversy. Local legend claims that Inez Clarke died in 1880 at only 6-years-old. Her grieving parents ordered a life size statue of her for her grave, and this detailed charming sculpture was placed in a glass box for its own protection. She is often left toys and flowers from cemetery visitors. Perhaps that is why she’s so restless. Strange sounds can be heard near her grave, and some have seen the life-like statue move. Trumping those stories are the claims that little Inez Clarke disappears from her glass box completely, most likely to occur during heavy thunderstorms because she is said to have died during a lightning storm. Some people have even claimed to see a little girl playing in the cemetery, dressed in old fashioned clothes.
There is only one small problem with these urban legends. According to Chicago records, as well as cemetery records from Graceland, little 6-year-old Inez Clarke could not have been buried there. In fact she could not have been buried anywhere but there’s no proof she ever existed. Cemetery records show that an 8-year-old boy named Amos Briggs is buried where Inez Clarke’s memorial stands. So what’s the story behind the statue? According to an article by Troy Taylor at prairieghosts.com, some believe that a Scottish monument maker, Andrew Gage, sculpted it only as an elaborate advertisement for his work, coincidently placed where it was in the cemetery because that particular location always received a lot of foot traffic. Maybe Gage even helped create the legend himself to rouse publicity for his work. But even if there is no Inez Clarke, what of the eye witness accounts of the moving and disappearing statue? Certainly there can be no ghost if there was no real person to begin with, right? Can a mere statue have its own ghost, a memory of a little girl who never was? Or have we given life to the statue with our vivid imaginations, wanting to believe that a 6-year-old little girl still frolics around Graceland’s manicured lawn.
Both the Statue of Death and Inez Clarke’s memorial evoke in us contemplative ideas concerning our past and our future, our memories and our legends. Inez proves that you needn’t even be real to be memorable to some. Local legends writes its own history sometimes and what we know is true enough for both haunting statues. Sometimes what’s real can only be seen in our mind’s eye. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not real. Inez may never have lived in Chicago or been buried in Graceland Cemetery, but the moral of her story is real. We never truly ever die, as long as someone is standing over our departed remains. For those few brief moments they read the engraving on our tombstones, we are alive to them, and our memory lives on.