The “Resurrection Mary” Gates

They’re gone now, but for about thirty years an important part of Chicago ghostlore was the bent gates at Resurrection Cemetery. Two of the gates were bent, as though someone had tried to pry them apart, with scorch marks where the hands would have been. The story went that a man had been driving past and saw a woman holding the gates and screaming. He reported to the police that someone was locked in the cemetery, and they arrived to find no one there…only bent up bars.

The cemetery’s explanation was always that a work truck had backed into the gates, and the scorch marks came from blow-torching them in attempt to bend them back into shape. Resurrection Mary fans scoffed.

A year or so ago, I was signing books at a large annual conference of writers, librarians, and teachers. A woman came up to me and introduced herself as the daughter of the guy who backed into the bars – she even said she’d seen the accident report. While it’s always been said that the cemetery was terribly embarrassed by the bars, and outraged that people would blame a ghost, according to her it was always sort of a running joke to the cemetery maintenance staff. The “ghost bars” were considered particularly hilarious.

Now, this is the part where I must hang my historian head in shame. I didn’t get NEARLY enough information from the woman. I was working at the time, and and in the process of divorcing myself from my old company and unsure whether I’d ever work in the ghost business again. All that can come of this is that I can say that I’ve heard from presumably trustworthy sources that the cemetery never took the “ghost bars” seriously, and were quite secure in their belief that it was all the result of a construction accident.

For a whole lot more information, check out our Resurrection Mary Roundtable podcast episode! We discuss the bars at length.

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7 thoughts on “The “Resurrection Mary” Gates

  1. I would characterize them as a bit of both. The idea that a ghost bent up the bars was generally mistaken identity, but there were plenty of outright fake stories told about them over the years.

  2. Just about any ghost story could be urban legend or fake. Nature of the beast. "Fake" is a kind of a strong word, since it implies deliberate fraud, but even most of the most ghost sightings/evidence do turn out to be something else.

  3. Hello. I been reading about the hauntings of O'Hare Airport, and I wondered could these reports be urban legends or fake.

  4. I have to admit, I drove by that cemetery when I was living in Chicago in the hopes of seeing Resurrection Mary. Never saw her. Maybe I'd have stood a better chance had I been a man 😉 From what I understand, she liked them better.

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