The story begins at the O’Henry Ballroom, now called the Willowbrook, where a young girl accompanied her date to a dance. At some point they argued and the girl left, opting to walk home or hitchhike, in spite of the cold winter evening. Not very far from the dance, she was killed by a hit and run accident. Her murder remains unsolved, and due to the numerous sightings of the ghost nicknamed Resurrection Mary, it appears her soul is doomed to suffer the same fate for eternity. The Justice police department has since received phone calls and visits from frantic drivers for a variety of reasons. Some have encountered her in the manner of hitting her with their car, even hearing the sickening thud of impact, only to get out and discover no one there. Some claim to have come across her and driven through her, and still others report a woman lying face down on the side of the road, yet when police investigate, she’s disappeared. Resurrection Mary doesn’t just haunt Archer Avenue, though. She’s turned up at the same dancing hall where she spent her last night alive, danced with unsuspecting gentlemen, even been kissed by a few, who have claimed the mysterious girl to be unusually aloof, and her skin icy cold to the touch. In almost every case, these men have offered her a ride home, which she accepts. She directs them up Archer Avenue, only to vanish from the passenger seat as they pass the gates of Resurrection Cemetery, her not-so-final resting place. Among the eerier witness accounts is that of Jerry Palus in 1939. He danced with her, was one of those who kissed her, and gave her a ride home. She told him her address, but requested he drop her off at 7201 Archer Avenue. Upon arrival, and seeing the address to be that of Resurrection Cemetery, he reluctantly agreed, but only on the condition that she allow him to accompany her. She refused, and told him, "Where I’m going, you can’t follow." Then, she quietly got out of the car and ran to the gates of the Cemetery, vanishing before she reached them. Yet another spectacular event of note occurred on the night of August 10, 1976, for that was the night she left proof of her existence. A driver passed the Cemetery late that night and noticed a girl fitting the same description standing inside the gates. He went to the police station and reported seeing someone accidentally locked inside. The police were dispatched, and upon arrival, all that remained in the place where she stood was twisted, charred metal bars of the iron gates, and small hand prints seared into the metal. The Cemetery attempted to explain it away, saying it was the result of a truck backing into the gate, and even went so far as to temporarily remove the bars in an attempt to ward off spirit-seekers and gawkers. Supposedly, attempts to cover the hand prints and scorch marks proved futile, and eventually, the bars were removed for good. Many want to know the identity of Resurrection Mary before her death, and while speculations are abundant, the favorite theory is a woman named Mary Bregovy. She was killed in an accident in 1934 and is buried in an unmarked grave next to her mother of the same name who passed away in 1922. While at first glance it may seem that all the pieces of the puzzle fall into place, there’s flaws in this theory. It’s true she died in an accident, but it took place in downtown Chicago. The true Resurrection Mary is seen with blonde hair, wearing white. Young Mary Bregovy was brunette, and was buried in an orchid or lavender dress instead. A man named Frank Andrejasich suggested Mary was someone else altogether: Anna Mary Norkus, shy of thirteen years old by only a few hours, tragically killed in a car accident when her father took her out to celebrate. However, her description matches witness sightings. Furthermore, during this era in Chicago, general strikes might have put gravediggers out of work, according to this theory. (I couldn’t find any proof of this in my search of Chicago history online.) When this occurred during other times, the deceased were interred at Resurrection Cemetery until such time that they could be moved. Anna Mary Norkus was supposed to be laid to rest at St. Casimir Cemetery. If there was a strike, she could have been misplaced, and thus given a reason to continue to haunt Archer Avenue. She’s not at peace.
Mary was first spotted in the 1930’s. People have described her as a young woman with blond hair, wearing a white party dress with a shawl and carrying a purse. Men have reported picking her up hitchhiking near the Willowbrook ballroom, sometimes she asks to be taken to the cemetery. She gets into the car and disappears before the driver reaches their destination. Many people have claimed to have seen Mary. Sometimes she just appears in front of cars driving down Archer Avenue and sometimes she appears in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle and slowly fades away.Mary’s early appearances started when several motorists who drove past the Resurrection cemetery kept claiming that there was a young woman who kept trying to jump onto the running boards of their automobiles. The story changed after that, some people say that they met Mary at the Willowbrook Ballroom which at that time was called the O’Henry Ballroom. People said that they would dance with the girl and then she would then ask for a ride home. The directions she gave would lead to the cemetery, she did not speak when she got into the car and then mysteriously vanished when they got to the cemetery.Many people have also claimed that they have seen Mary walking along Archer Avenue and when they ask her if she wants a ride she disappears. The strangest thing about Mary was that most people who saw her in the 30’s all described her as looking the same from her blond hair, blue eyes, and party dress to her shawl and the small purse that she carried.Other descriptions of Mary were much more terrifying than a vanishing ghost. Some drivers have said they were driving along when a young woman bolted out in front of their car and screamed. Then the driver heard a sickening thud followed by the woman being thrown through the air and striking the pavement. When the driver would go out to check on the girl, they found no trace of a body. The Justice police department has had several reports of people coming in and crying that they had struck and killed a woman but could not find the body.No one knows for sure who Mary was in real life but the story that most people believe is that in the winter of 1930 there was a young woman dancing at the O’Henry Ballroom with her boyfriend. At some point in the evening they got into a fight and Mary stormed out of the ballroom and started to walk home along Archer Drive. She was then struck by a hit and run driver and left to die in the road. She was buried by her grieving parents at the Resurrection Cemetery.Most appearances of Mary happen in the winter and most of the sightings of her were in the 1930’s and the 1970’s but reports of Mary have never stopped. Mary has become a legend and is considered to be Chicago’s most popular ghost. There have been books written about her and even a movie was released about her a couple of years ago but it didn’t do Mary justice. The only way to really find out about Resurrection Mary is to take a drive along Archer avenue and maybe you will find Mary walking along the road by herself, trying to get back to the cemetery.