The year is 1939, the place is Chicago. A young man Jerry Palus is attending a dance at the Liberty Grove and Hall near 47th Street and Mozart.
As the evening wears on Jerry is not particularly interested in any of the young ladies enjoying the music or the party atmosphere.
Standing watching the dancers, a young woman suddenly appears in the doorway and catches his eye. Tall and slender with long blonde hair and blue eyes, he is immediately attracted to her.
They spend the rest of the evening dancing and although he finds her a little reserved and cold to touch, he is smitten. At the end of the evening Jerry offers the young woman a lift home.
The lady agrees and gives Jerry her address. Puzzlingly though, she first asks her admirer to take her down Archer Avenue in the opposite direction.
As they drive down the road they approach the gates of Resurrection Cemetery. Suddenly the young woman asks her driver to stop.
Climbing out of the car she tells Jerry that he must not come after her, where she is going he can’t follow. As he watches, the woman disappears from view.
What Jerry doesn’t yet realize is that he may have just spent the evening with Resurrection Mary. Who is Resurrection Mary? You may well ask.
She is of course, Chicago’s most loved and famous ghost.
By the next morning Jerry is so concerned at abandoning his new friend in such a dark and isolated place that he decides to go to her home to make sure that she is safe.
Traveling across town he finds her house with little trouble and knocks on the door. A middle aged lady answers and Jerry asks if he can speak with her daughter.
Before his eyes the woman pales and almost faints.
Recovering her composure minutes later, she informs Jerry that her daughter died five years earlier and is buried in Resurrection Cemetery.
Shaken, Jerry slowly realizes that he has in fact been dancing with a ghost, the ghost of Mary Bregovy.
Mary Bregovy was born in Chicago in 1912. The daughter of Czech immigrants she worked hard in a factory and spent her evenings, when she could, dancing and enjoying herself.
A month before her 21st birthday Mary attended a dance with some friends at the O Henry Ballroom.
At the end of the evening Mary climbed into a car with three of her friends and was traveling through downtown Chicago, presumably on her way home.
As the group rounded a corner at Wacker Drive and Lake Street, the driver John Thoel, failed to see a piece of machinery.
Striking the large object, the vehicle overturned. Mary was thrown through the windscreen, dying immediately. Her companions although injured, survived.
In the months that followed Mary’s friends are rumored to have seen her near the cemetery where she was buried in an unmarked grave.
That cemetery was Resurrection Cemetery. During the 1950’s the caretaker of the cemetery who had known Mary during her lifetime swore that he witnessed her ghost moving through the gravestones.
So can we say for definite that Mary Bregovy is definitely Resurrection Mary?
Photographs of Mary Bregovy do indeed show a stunningly beautiful young woman, but she is clearly dark not blonde and as for her white dress, the tragic Miss Bregovy was buried in her favorite Orchid gown, a delicate shade of lilac.
Ona or Anna Norkus was born in Cicero Illinois in 1914. Once again she was the daughter of immigrant parents.
Part of a deeply religious family she took the name Marija or Mary in devotion to the Blessed Mother.
On 20th July 1927 Anna’s father took herself and her older sister to a dance at the O Henry Ballroom, possibly as a birthday treat for the two girls.
Part of a larger group at the dance, the family of three accepted a lift home with friends. Traveling down the pitch black city streets at 1:30 am they passed the Resurrection Cemetery on Archer Avenue before turning onto 67th Street.
Tragically, the car they were traveling in plunged down an unmarked railway cutting 25 feet deep. Young Anna was the only fatality, her happy evening shattered and her young life snatched cruelly away.
Could Anna be a candidate for Resurrection Mary?
Photographs of the young Anna clearly show that she is blonde and beautiful but is she too young?
Mary Petkiewicz was a 17 year old bride who sadly lost her life on Christmas day 1932. Mary was one of five people traveling in a car driven by her young husband Casimir.
On the corner of 55th Street and Cicero, their vehicle collided with another driven by a Steve O’Donnell. Mary was thrown from the car when it overturned and died almost immediately.
Sadly information regarding Mary Petkiewicz is scant and there are no images to compare with the sightings of Resurrection Mary.
Mary Miskowski was a young Polish girl who died in 1930. Aged just 19 Mary was on her way to a Halloween party dressed as a bride after borrowing her mother’s old wedding dress.
As she made her way along the road she was knocked down and killed by a hit and run driver. Described as a pretty blonde by those who knew her, Mary is perhaps the likeliest candidate for our young ghost.
She is certainly the popular choice for many people who leave her flowers, notes and prayers at Resurrection Cemetery.
Sadly, there are no records to confirm Mary’s life or death, possibly due to a misspelling of her name somewhere along the line. She remains a ghostly enigma.
Sightings of Resurrection Mary
Since 1934 there have been countless sightings of Resurrection Mary. She is usually seen walking slowly along Archer Road near Resurrection Cemetery.
Described as blonde, blue eyed and beautiful, she wears a diaphanous white gown and dancing shoes. Initially Mary appeared to be a hitchhiker who would step into the road and try to flag down cars.
If they failed to stop she would jump up onto the running board of older vehicles or throw herself in front. Those who stopped described her as disappearing before their eyes.
In 1973 Mary entered a club called Harlow’s on two occasions. Wearing a faded white dress she danced the night away.
Despite the doors being manned and the building secured, nobody saw Mary enter or leave the building.
On August 10th 1976 at about 10PM the local Police Department received a call informing them that a young girl had been seen locked behind the gates at Resurrection Cemetery.
Arriving at the cemetery the two police officers sent out to investigate found no sign of the girl. What they did find was the cemetery gates damaged.
Something very hot had been used to melt the bars. Impressed into them were the fingerprints of a small adult.
On 12th August 1976 a young female driver reported the body of a woman wearing a white dress lying in front of the cemetery gates.
When the police arrived they found the young driver distraught. The body which she had clearly seen disappeared before her eyes.
In 1978 a truck driver on his way to work in the early morning also spotted the body of a young girl lying in front of the cemetery gates.
Climbing out of his truck, he discovered the girl was severely injured but still breathing. With nobody around the man climbed back into his vehicle and rushed off to seek help.
Returning with an ambulance a few minutes later he was astonished to discover the woman had gone and there was no sign that an accident had ever taken place.
In May 1978 a young couple were driving down Archer Road when a woman wearing a white dress darted in front of their car.
Hitting the brakes too late, the driver knew that he must surely strike the lady. Bracing themselves for impact the couple were astonished when their car passed straight through the body of the young woman who promptly melted away as if she had never been there at all.
In 1979, a cab driver called Ralph turned onto Archer Avenue and spotted a young woman standing by the side of the road. The weather was cold and the young woman didn’t have a coat.
Pulling over the cabbie asked the woman if she would like a lift. The young lady climbed into the front seat of the cab. She broke the silence once only to remark that the snow had come early that year.
As they approached the cemetery the woman became agitated and shouted for the driver to stop. The bewildered driver looked around for a house but could see nothing.
Turning to his passenger to ask where she lived, he was astonished to discover that she had disappeared.
On the last weekend of August in 1980, Mary was spotted by numerous people who reported their sightings to the police. Included in these sightings was one by the deacon of the local Greek Church.
He reported that as he was driving down Archer Road a young blonde haired woman in a long flowing white dress crossed in front of his car before stopping in the middle of the road.
The deacon described the lady as barefoot and walking with her arms outstretched as if she was reaching for something.
On September 5 1980 a young man left a softball game and drove down Archer Road on his way home. As he passed The Red Barrel Restaurant he spotted an attractive young woman standing at the side of the road.
Not one to pass up an opportunity the young man pulled up and asked the pretty girl if she would like a lift. Climbing into the car it was clear that she didn’t want to engage in small talk but indicated that she wanted to go up Archer Road.
Traveling at least 45mph the car did not stop or slow down as it approached the cemetery. Keen to get a date with the lovely young woman the driver turned to ask if she would like to accompany him for a drink.
The young woman had disappeared into thin air.
On October 23 1980 four people witnessed Mary dancing in Archer Road. None of the witnesses knew of the ghost story attached to the cemetery and only discovered that they had seen a ghost when the reported the incident to their families.
Sightings of the beautiful apparition of a young woman continue to be reported near the cemetery on Archer Road to this day.
Who was Resurrection Mary in life?
We will probably never know.
In this cemetery with over 150,000 graves there must be many Marys all with their own story to tell.
The only thing we truly know about the ghostly Mary that Chicago has taken to its heart is that she was a beautiful young woman who loved to dance whose life was cruelly taken far too soon.