Resurrection Mary's Handprints

Could this be the handprints of Chicago's most famous spirit, the mystical Resurrection Mary?

Stories of ghostly hitchhikers date back 100 years, but the tale of Resurrection Mary began in the 1930's when drivers on Archer Avenue started to report spooky encounters with a young woman in a flowing white dress.  The woman, who appeared to be real flesh and blood, would vanish and, in some cases, try to jump onto passing automobiles going by Resurrection Cemetery.

This haunting was not limited to the grounds and outskirts of the cemetery, however, as Mary would sometimes frequent a dance hall called The O'Henry Ballroom.  There, she would meet young me, dance with them, and then would accept a ride home with them, offering only vague directions to her home.  When the car reached or passed the gates of Resurrection Cemetery, she would vanish leaving a very confused and frightened beau behind.

Reports of Resurrection Mary walking Archer Avenue continue to this day.

The strangest account of Resurrection Mary was occurred on the night of August 10, 1976.

A driver was passing by the cemetery around 10:30 when he happened to see a girl standing on the other side of the gates. He said that when he saw her, she was wearing a white dress and grasping the iron bars of the gate. The driver stopped down the street at the police station and alerted them that someone had been accidentally locked in the cemetery after closing time. An officer responded to the call but when he arrived there was no one there.

The officer's inspected the gates, where the girl had been seen standing, and found that two of the bars  had been pulled apart and bent at sharp angles. There was also blackened scorch marks on the bars and within these marks was what looked to be skin texture and handprints that had been seared into the metal with incredible heat.

The marks of the small hands made big news and curiosity-seekers came from all over the area to see them. In an effort to discourage the crowds, cemetery officials attempted to remove the marks with a blowtorch, making them look even worse. Finally, they cut the bars off and installed a wire fence until the two bars could be straightened or replaced.

The cemetery emphatically denied the supernatural version of what happened to the bars. They claimed that a truck backed into the gates while doing sewer work at the cemetery and that grounds workers tried to fix the bars by heating them with a blowtorch and bending them. The imprint in the metal, they said, was from a workman trying to push them together again. While this explanation was quite convenient, it did not explain why the marks of small fingers were clearly visible in the metal.

Sightings of Resurrection Mary began to fall off in the 1990's, but the ghost herself is still seen every now and then.

So, was it just an accident or did one of the most famous ghosts in America leave a calling card that day?  We may never know... until she decides to do it again.

A bit on Resurrection Mary presented by Unsolved Mysteries.