Resurrection Mary

Resurrection Mary is one of Chicago’s most famous ghosts who haunts the town of Justice, a suburb of Chicago. She takes her name from the district's Resurrection Cemetery, where she is thought to be buried. (There is no definite record of anyone having been buried there that matches her name and description. The closest in age is a young Polish woman named Mary, but there are no further details in the cemetery register.) Mary was a pretty blue-eyed blonde, an ideal date, and she loved to dance. But one fateful night, she changed from Mary, teenage sweetheart, to Resurrection Mary, a ghost doomed to hitchhike home over and over again. Only “home” isn’t a house—it’s a cemetery! She has been seen frequently since 1936, either at the Willowbrook Ballroom, where she had her final date, or walking along the road where she is said to have died after being struck by a hit-and-run driver.

The story goes that Mary, dressed in a fancy white dress and white shoes, went dancing one night at the ballroom, which then was known as the O. Henry Ballroom. She argued with her date and left the ballroom in a huff, walking up Archer Avenue. It’s not known how the accident happened— or who was at fault—but Mary was struck and killed by a car. The driver left the scene and was never identified. Mary’s heartbroken parents had her buried at Resurrection Cemetery, wearing the white dress and shoes she wore on the last night of her life.

The Resurrection Cemetery in Justice

Her ghost began appearing around 1936, appearing in front of an oncoming car in the middle of the road or jumping onto its side running board. The ghost would ask to be taken to the O. Henry, where she would dance all night. Then, at closing time, she would catch a ride with a stranger traveling down Archer Road, back toward Resurrection Cemetery.

Chicago paranormal researcher Richard Crowe has quite a file on “Resurrection Mary,” a beautiful phantom hitchhiker who haunts Chicago’ s South Side. “She was buried in Resurrection Cemetery on Archer Avenue, which is where she gets her nickname,” Crowe explained. “During the 1930s and 1940s, Mary was often picked up at dances by various people. She would ask for a ride toward Resurrection Cemetery, saying that she lived down that way. As people drove her home, she would yell at them to stop in front of the cemetery gates. She would get out of the car, run across the road, and dematerialize at the gate.”

Resurrection Mary has also been seen standing inside the cemetery. There were an especially large number of sightings while the cemetery was being renovated in the 1970s. Since that time, she has been sighted all over the Chicago area, but she always returns to Resurrection Cemetery.

No one knows who the real Mary was. She has been said to be Anna Marija (Mary) Norkus, a 12-year-old blonde Lithuanian girl who went to the O. Henry in July 1927 to celebrate her birthday. On her way home, the car in which she was riding fell into a ditch and she was killed. But Marija was buried at another cemetery. Nonetheless, the ghost of Resurrection Mary is real to those who meet her. She is most often seen in winter, especially around Christmastime. She looks very much alive, dressed in her fancy white dress and shoes, and a little shawl too thin for the cold winter night.

Mysteries, Legends and Unexplained Phenomena: "Ghosts and Haunted Places" by Rosemary Ellen Guiley;
Real Ghost, Restless Spirits and Haunted Places by Brad Steiger;
The Complete Idiot's Guide to Ghosts and Hauntings by Tom Ogden

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