Calvary Cemetery in Chicago

When asked to write about interesting and fun facts about Chicago, I went to my history books and wanted to share something that I’ve always been fascinated by.   I’m not saying I’m a true believer but the story itself was compelling enough to write.

I’m talking about Chicago Hauntings.   For a city known to most as Al Capone‘s home, there seems to be a bevy of paranormal,  poltergeist or residual haunting activity.   This last type of activity is best referred to as the “ghost” reliving or “replaying” an event, often tragic in nature, and usually is a victim of an accident or murder.   It’s said the ghost is reliving the final moments of life where he met his ultimate demise.

How does this relate to Calvary Cemetery?   There is a legend about “The Aviator” and the story goes a little like this.   During the time of World War II ships were converted to aircraft carriers and pilots were trained to land the plans on the decks of the ships.   Occassionally, an uncertain pilot would careen into Lake Michigan.   Of course, rescue attempts were made but sometimes they would be unsuccessful.   According to the tale, The Aviator was an unknown pilot who was one of the unfortunate  not rescued.

During the 20 years following his drowning, those traveling Sheridan Road reported sightings of a young man rising out of the lake and crossing Sheridan to Calvary Cemetary.   He would pace back and forth in front of the locked gates.   Supposedly thousands of commuters witnessed this sequence of events until 1960.   Suddenly the sightings just stopped.

The eerie part is that the sightings ceased when the Sheridan Road gates to Calvary Cemetary were left open one night.   Hearing a Twilight Zonemoment yet?   Local lore says The Aviator finally found a dry place to lie in rest.   Also according to local legend, The Aviator was never seen again, inside or outside the cemetary.

The Aviator distinguishes himself as a spirit who sought and found his own resting place.   In the more traditional ghost stories, spirits remain until the living provide a proper burial.

A final note of interest regarding Calvary Cemetery.   It is the first Chicago Catholic Diocesan cemetary.   It is considered one of the least-known treasures but the lovliest.   Noted architect, James Egan, designed the cemetery.   Behind the massive limestone gates rest several Chicago elite including, Charles Comiskey(founder of the Chicago White Sox and the American League), Mayor Edward Kelly, Edward Hines (local lumber giant), and John M. Smyth (furniture manufacturer).

Excerpted from Chicago Haunts, Ghostlore of the Windy City by Ursula Bielski

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