Real Life Ghost Stories: The Bodies Beneath Lincoln Park

Real Life Ghost Stories: The Bodies Beneath Lincoln Park

By J. L. Thurston

The tour group walks through the rolling grass of Lincoln Park. The sun is too low to be seen through the jagged skyline of Chicago architecture. The sky is fading quickly into a sleepy black. As the people move forward, they are all too aware that beneath their feet lay long-forgotten bodies.

The area had been a city cemetery since before the 1800s until it was converted to a park. Were the bodies relocated when the cemetery was moved? Nope. A few grave markers were moved, but no more than a few bodies had been reburied in proper graves.

Walking the grounds of Lincoln Park means walking over thousands of unmarked graves. The park is built on forgotten skeletons.

There’s one structure in the park that denotes that the dead had once owned the land. The Couch mausoleum. It’s a barren crypt, bearing only the name — no dates or plaque. There’s controversy as to whether anyone is even laid to rest in there. But the mausoleum is fenced off with a thick, iron fence. The heavy metal door teases all onlookers. The question has burned into so many minds, What is inside the Couch mausoleum?

 The photo taken from Adam's iPhone.

The photo taken from Adam's iPhone.

One such man, Adam Selzer, had been driven nearly mad by that question. So much so that he kept dreaming about opening the door and entering. The metal door isn’t flush with the stone threshold. There’s a three-inch gap that isn’t obvious unless you hunker down and look. Adam noticed this gap when he saw a bug crawl out from underneath.

He rigged his iPhone in such a way that he could slide it under and snap some photos. He almost lost his phone inside the tomb during his experiment, but he managed to take a photo of the other side.

The photo only filled him with more questions. Inside the door is another door.

As the tour group gathers around the mausoleum, they take out their EMF readers. A homeless man shouts, “There’s ghosts in there!” and runs away. This sparks a few nervous giggles, but one woman’s EMF begins to beep. It blinks red lights as she points it directly at the crypt door.

I’m there with my parents on this haunted tour of Lincoln Park. I’m not much of a believer in EMF and ghostly orbs, but I still very much enjoy it. Anything undead is fun for me. I know, I’m strange. I’m OK with it, though.

My mother snaps a picture of the mausoleum door.

Like I said, I don’t believe in orbs, but… What the fuck is that?! Okay, maybe a bug, maybe her finger was partially in the way.

 Mom's photo of the mausoleum door.

Mom's photo of the mausoleum door.

The tour guide moves us over to Lincoln Park Zoo. Multiple bodies were unearthed in the building of the zoo, and due to the city’s lack of concern, the bodies were left there and the zoo was built on top of them. The little petting zoo farm area? Yeah. Your kids are enjoying a fun day over neglected corpses.

The guy leading the tour takes out something he calls an SMP. It’s like a scanner that switches radio stations really quickly and is full of static and can make it sound like one is communing with spirits. This gets the group really excited when he asks, “Is anyone with us?” and the scanner says, Here. Then he says, “Who’s here?” and the scanner says, Me.

What I find interesting is when he’s asking it questions about Suicide Bridge. I hear the scanner say twenty-seven. And there are 27 of us in the group, if you count the tour guide. No one seems to notice. They are too busy trying to decipher the ghost’s name.

The tour ends perfectly. We veer off the topic of all the unmarked graves in Lincoln Park and end up on Clark Street where Bugs Moran’s gang was shot and killed in some poor schmo’s garage. The famous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.

What is interesting about this are the dowsing rods the guide hands out for us. This is another thing I believe is complete nonsense, but still fun.

So, the guy behind me is holding his EMF and it is going crazy. Like, nonstop beeping and flashing. The thing is, if he moves a little to the left or right it stops. It only went crazy in the space between him and me. But no one else can get their EMF to light up in that spot for 10 minutes.

Then, my dad’s begins to make some noise. I take the EMF from him and it stops. I hand it back, and it goes crazy. Over and over again. So, my mom asks the dowsing rods some questions. Yes, she is talking to inanimate objects. And this is what they say.

“Cross the rods if you died here.”

Cross.

“Uncross them if you were shot in the garage.”

Uncross.

“Cross the rods if you were guilty.”

Nothing.

“Cross the rods if you were innocent.”

Cross.

Then the EMF readers silence and won’t beep anymore.

On the way home, my parents and I buzz about how much fun we had. We’re also happy to be cruising Chicago at night. The sights of the skyscrapers lit up underneath a blanket of black and glittering stars is a beauty found only in this city. The feel of dark summer air, the way the city grows quiet after a day of noise, it’s intoxicating. One almost can believe that spirits dread to depart from this place. Maybe it is possible that the dead have voices, and maybe we had an encounter with the other side.

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