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Ursula Bielski
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Wild Nights: Ghost Hunting Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo (Part 2): The Primate House
My first exposure to primates as a child was at the old "Children's Zoo" at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo: a building next to the Sea Lion pool which focused on education for young children, where my dad would take me as part of our regular "rounds" about the ...

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Wild Nights: Ghosthunting Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo: (Part 1)
Bringing out the bodies after the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. As one of the oldest neighborhoods in Chicago, Lincoln Park is also, surely, one of the most haunted in the city.  The home of George "Bugs" Moran, Lincoln Park saw some of the worst Gangland v...

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From Garbage to "Ghostbusters": The Strange Case of Streeterville
    In urban areas around the world, architecture’s brilliant progress has been checked by many faults.  For every successful design there are ten that fail--aesthetically, financially, or environmentally.  Most troublesome have been the so-called “sick bui...

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**
One
of the most compelling aspects of Chicago’s supernatural reality is the belief that
Lake Michigan boasts a supernatural “triangle” which seems to share many
qualities with the famed “Bermuda Triangle,” that enigmatic portion of sea
which has—reportedly ...

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A Sea Captain Among the Spirits
One of the most
compelling aspects of Chicago’s supernatural reality is the belief that Lake
Michigan boasts a supernatural “triangle” which seems to share many qualities
with the famed “Bermuda Triangle,” that enigmatic portion of sea which has—reportedly
...

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The Ghosts of Englewood: The spirits of H. H. Holmes haunting grounds, before and after.

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King and Castle for a Haunted Land: The Murder Castle and the Ghosts of Englewood
Though the settlement and future Chicago was established in the very earliest years of the 1800s, it was not until 1840 that the United States Government Land Office officially declared its present-day Englewood area as "habitable land."   The sprawling swa...

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An Someone told me recently, "No matter how great my Chicago ghost experience is, Ursula, you always have a better story." Well, I guess that's probably true. Doing this stuff for almost 30 years pretty much guarantees that, aside from Dale Kaczmarek, Chris Fleming, Chuck Kennedy, Joe Who and a couple of other dyed in the wool Chicago folk who have dedicated their lives to paranormal investigation over three decades, everyone else is essentially a hipster. Typical is my experience of the famously haunted Peabody Estate at Mayslake-which I first went to check out in 1995 for inclusion in "Chicago Haunts" --and ended up, essentially, living at. As a north sider, I hadn't grown up hearing about Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, but I had learned about him in the "campfire stories" I heard from classmates at Benedictine University in the 1980s, and I was eager to check out this harrowing tale of the late coal magnate suspended in a glass casket filled with oil on the sprawling estate-turned-monastery he left behind in suburban Oak Brook. My mom and I visited Mayslake together on a Sunday afternoon in the mid 1990s, parking and walking out to the Portiuncula chapel--a popular spot for weddings. A few minutes into our visit, we were greeted by the caretaker of the grounds, a guy named Joe that regular visitors to the hallowed grounds affectionately called "Jesus" for his mustached and bearded countenance and joyful, spiritual demeanor. Joe gave us an extended tour of the grounds and the crumbling Peabody mansion. He entertained us for a long time with tales of the family and the property. He told us the place was "very special." When I got home and found he had left a message on my answering machine asking me out, I said yes. He had been really nice to my mom. Besides, I wanted to go back. Fast forward a few months to find me taking the Burlington train west after work most days to visit Joe and-of course-"Peabody's Tomb"-- and soon after, the two of us becoming engaged. Yep, engaged. My short time as the "Lady of Mayslake" is one of the most magical memories I have. Joe made me feel quite at home there, fixing up a room for me to sleep in in the more modern wing which had housed the nuns who had cared for the monastery in its heyday. He knew I was a paranormal investigator, of course, and an historian, and he regaled me for hours with stories of the estate's history--and mystery. I spent such sacred and mystical evenings there, gazing over the lake and walking the grounds at twilight and sunrise, and spending nights in various rooms of the great House, which at the time was totally inaccessible to the public due to safety hazards. As I began to learn about Mayslake from this gentleman caretaker, first on the list of stories to address, of course, was the story that everyone had heard. So I asked him. THE LEGEND OF PEABODY'S TOMB The first thing to get out of the way is that, for Chicago area ghost hunters, there are two so-called "Monks' Castles." For those who grew up in the south suburbs, where the church of St. James at Sag Bridge--and its churchyard burial ground--were called thus, you may not know that the western suburban kids had their own "Monks' Castle" at the Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, which became a monastery after the death of the Lord of the Manor as it were. Both of these sites were known for priests or monks who would take it upon themselves to chase away young people stealing on to the grounds to search for something supernatural. The Peabody Estate was built by Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, a coal magnate, and designed by the firm of Marshall & Fox, which also designed the Drake, Blackstone and Edgewater Beach Hotels in Chicago. The house sits on a wide lawn opening to Mayslake, named for Peabody's daughter, on a huge tract of land in Oak Brook, just west of Chicago. After Peabody's death during a fox hunt on the grounds, the property went to the Franciscan Order, and the monks moved in. It wasn't long before rumors began that Peabody's corpse had been preserved in formaldehyde and lay in state, suspended in a glass coffin on the altar of the little Portiuncula Chapel, which still stands on the grounds. As the rumors spread, area teenagers began to make the night time trek to the grounds to try for a look inside "Peabody's Tomb." In time, the estate became one of the most bothered and vandalized hotspots for young peoples' shenanigans and initiations. But of course, the monks won. Kids began avoiding the property like the plague after hearing that, if apprehended by the monks at Mayslake, one would be forced to kneel on salt, broken glass, or a broomstick handle for the rest of the night, praying for forgiveness. Like St. James-Sag, there are more memories of the story than of actual run-ins with the brothers. But what about the body? What about Peabody's tomb? Well, sadly, none of it is true. The Portiuncula Chapel is just that: a lovely little church which is, today, a popular spot for weddings. Peabody was never there. He is interred in a nearby cemetery, but did not want his whereabouts disclosed, probably partially feeding the early rumors. And as for the body in the glass casket? The origin of this story is cloudy, but there is a plausible explanation. The monks owned a relic (bone fragment or other bodily fragment) or St. Innocentius. This holy man was different from POPE Innocent, who is one of the "incorruptibles": saints whose bodies never decomposed. His body is displayed in a glass casket in St. Peter's Basililca in Rome. In fact, he was moved to make way for the body of Blessed John Paul II. It's possible that someone heard about the relic, then heard that POPE Innocent was interred in a glass casket, then rumor somehow changed him into Peabody and the chapel into the tomb. Stranger tales have developed from seeds of truth, haven't they? But the Peabody state is, absolutely, haunted. There are several ghosts that remain at this institution. One is that of a young boy who was the child of a housekeeper who worked for Francis Peabody. One afternoon, the child--at play with a ball--became absentminded and fell down a long, steep flight of stairs behind the kitchen. His death shook the staff to their core. I can't quite express to this day the feeling of dread I would get when passing from the new wing where I slept into the main house by way of the kitchen hallway. For me to say that there is no doubt in my mind that this was a severely haunted area is an understatement indeed. Literally, I still sometimes dream about that hallway and that feeling. Joe also told me that there had been an exorcism in the great House when the brothers lived there in its monastery days. During cases of genuine possession, the Church usually mandates that exorcisms--when they are sanctioned--be done in churches, recotries, monasteries, convents or other religiously designated spaces. We are told that, during exorcisms, it is not uncommon for the place of exorcism to retain "energy" from the exorcism, sometimes for generations, so this is another possibility for the haunting experiences of the Peabody Estate. Oily Residue: The Haunting of the Peabody Estate
Someone told me recently, "No matter how great my Chicago ghost experiences are, Ursula, you always have a better story."  Well, I guess that's probably true.   Doing this stuff for almost 30 years pretty much guarantees that, aside from Dale Kaczmarek and ...
An Someone told me recently, "No matter how great my Chicago ghost experience is, Ursula, you always have a better story." Well, I guess that's probably true. Doing this stuff for almost 30 years pretty much guarantees that, aside from Dale Kaczmarek, Chris Fleming, Chuck Kennedy, Joe Who and a couple of other dyed in the wool Chicago folk who have dedicated their lives to paranormal investigation over three decades, everyone else is essentially a hipster. Typical is my experience of the famously haunted Peabody Estate at Mayslake--which I first went to check out in 1995 for inclusion in "Chicago Haunts" --and ended up, essentially, living at. As a north sider, I hadn't grown up hearing about Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, but I had learned about him in the "campfire stories" I heard from classmates at Benedictine University in the 1980s, and I was eager to check out this harrowing tale of the late coal magnate suspended in a glass casket filled with oil on the sprawling estate-turned-monastery he left behind in suburban Oak Brook. My mom and I visited Mayslake together on a Sunday afternoon in the mid 1990s, parking and walking out to the Portiuncula chapel--a popular spot for weddings. A few minutes into our visit, we were greeted by the caretaker of the grounds, a guy named Joe that regular visitors to the hallowed grounds affectionately called "Jesus" for his mustached and bearded countenance and joyful, spiritual demeanor. Joe gave us an extended tour of the grounds and the crumbling Peabody mansion. He entertained us for a long time with tales of the family and the property. He told us the place was "very special." When I got home and found he had left a message on my answering machine asking me out, I said yes. He had been really nice to my mom. Besides, I wanted to go back. Fast forward a few months to find me taking the Burlington train west after work most days to visit Joe and-of course--"Peabody's Tomb"-- and soon after, the two of us becoming engaged. Yep, engaged. My short time as the "Lady of Mayslake" is one of the most magical memories I have. Joe made me feel quite at home there, fixing up a room for me to sleep in in the more modern wing which had housed the nuns who had cared for the monastery in its heyday. He knew I was a paranormal investigator, of course, and an historian, and he regaled me for hours with stories of the estate's history--and mystery. I spent such sacred and mystical evenings there, gazing over the lake and walking the grounds at twilight and sunrise, and spending nights in various rooms of the great House, which at the time was totally inaccessible to the public due to safety hazards. As I began to learn about Mayslake from this gentleman caretaker, first on the list of stories to address, of course, was the story that everyone had heard. So I asked him. THE LEGEND OF PEABODY'S TOMB The first thing to get out of the way is that, for Chicago area ghost hunters, there are two so-called "Monks' Castles." For those who grew up in the south suburbs, where the church of St. James at Sag Bridge--and its churchyard burial ground--were called thus, you may not know that the western suburban kids had their own "Monks' Castle" at the Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, which became a monastery after the death of the Lord of the Manor as it were. Both of these sites were known for priests or monks who would take it upon themselves to chase away young people stealing on to the grounds to search for something supernatural. The Peabody Estate was built by Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, a coal magnate, and designed by the firm of Marshall & Fox, which also designed the Drake, Blackstone and Edgewater Beach Hotels in Chicago. The house sits on a wide lawn opening to Mayslake, named for Peabody's daughter, on a huge tract of land in Oak Brook, just west of Chicago. After Peabody's death during a fox hunt on the grounds, the property went to the Franciscan Order, and the monks moved in. It wasn't long before rumors began that Peabody's corpse had been preserved in formaldehyde and lay in state, suspended in a glass coffin on the altar of the little Portiuncula Chapel, which still stands on the grounds. As the rumors spread, area teenagers began to make the night time trek to the grounds to try for a look inside "Peabody's Tomb." In time, the estate became one of the most bothered and vandalized hotspots for young peoples' shenanigans and initiations. But of course, the monks won. Kids began avoiding the property like the plague after hearing that, if apprehended by the monks at Mayslake, one would be forced to kneel on salt, broken glass, or a broomstick handle for the rest of the night, praying for forgiveness. Like St. James-Sag, there are more memories of the story than of actual run-ins with the brothers. But what about the body? What about Peabody's tomb? Well, sadly, none of it is true. The Portiuncula Chapel is just that: a lovely little church which is, today, a popular spot for weddings. Peabody was never there. He is interred in a nearby cemetery, but did not want his whereabouts disclosed, probably partially feeding the early rumors. And as for the body in the glass casket? The origin of this story is cloudy, but there is a plausible explanation. The monks owned a relic (bone fragment or other bodily fragment) or St. Innocentius. This holy man was different from POPE Innocent, who is one of the "incorruptibles": saints whose bodies never decomposed. His body is displayed in a glass casket in St. Peter's Basililca in Rome. In fact, he was moved to make way for the body of Blessed John Paul II. It's possible that someone heard about the relic, then heard that POPE Innocent was interred in a glass casket, then rumor somehow changed him into Peabody and the chapel into the tomb. Stranger tales have developed from seeds of truth, haven't they? But the Peabody state is, absolutely, haunted. There are several ghosts that remain at this institution. One is that of a young boy who was the child of a housekeeper who worked for Francis Peabody. One afternoon, the child--at play with a ball--became absentminded and fell down a long, steep flight of stairs behind the kitchen. His death shook the staff to their core. I can't quite express to this day the feeling of dread I would get when passing from the new wing where I slept into the main house by way of the kitchen hallway. For me to say that there is no doubt in my mind that this was a severely haunted area is an understatement indeed. Literally, I still sometimes dream about that hallway and that feeling. Joe also told me that there had been an exorcism in the great House when the brothers lived there in its monastery days. During cases of genuine possession, the Church usually mandates that exorcisms--when they are sanctioned--be done in churches, recotries, monasteries, convents or other religiously designated spaces. We are told that, during exorcisms, it is not uncommon for the place of exorcism to retain "energy" from the exorcism, sometimes for generations, so this is another possibility for the haunting experiences of the Peabody Estate. Oily Residue: The Haunting of the Peabody Estate
An Someone told me recently, "No matter how great my Chicago ghost experience is, Ursula, you always have a better story." Well, I guess that's probably true. Doing this stuff for almost 30 years pretty much guarantees that, aside from Dale Kaczmarek, Chris Fleming, Chuck Kennedy, Joe Who and a couple of other dyed in the wool Chicago folk who have dedicated their lives to paranormal investigation over three decades, everyone else is essentially a hipster. Typical is my experience of the famously haunted Peabody Estate at Mayslake--which I first went to check out in 1995 for inclusion in "Chicago Haunts" --and ended up, essentially, living at. As a north sider, I hadn't grown up hearing about Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, but I had learned about him in the "campfire stories" I heard from classmates at Benedictine University in the 1980s, and I was eager to check out this harrowing tale of the late coal magnate suspended in a glass casket filled with oil on the sprawling estate-turned-monastery he left behind in suburban Oak Brook. My mom and I visited Mayslake together on a Sunday afternoon in the mid 1990s, parking and walking out to the Portiuncula chapel--a popular spot for weddings. A few minutes into our visit, we were greeted by the caretaker of the grounds, a guy named Joe that regular visitors to the hallowed grounds affectionately called "Jesus" for his mustached and bearded countenance and joyful, spiritual demeanor. Joe gave us an extended tour of the grounds and the crumbling Peabody mansion. He entertained us for a long time with tales of the family and the property. He told us the place was "very special." When I got home and found he had left a message on my answering machine asking me out, I said yes. He had been really nice to my mom. Besides, I wanted to go back. Fast forward a few months to find me taking the Burlington train west after work most days to visit Joe and-of course--"Peabody's Tomb"-- and soon after, the two of us becoming engaged. Yep, engaged. My short time as the "Lady of Mayslake" is one of the most magical memories I have. Joe made me feel quite at home there, fixing up a room for me to sleep in in the more modern wing which had housed the nuns who had cared for the monastery in its heyday. He knew I was a paranormal investigator, of course, and an historian, and he regaled me for hours with stories of the estate's history--and mystery. I spent such sacred and mystical evenings there, gazing over the lake and walking the grounds at twilight and sunrise, and spending nights in various rooms of the great House, which at the time was totally inaccessible to the public due to safety hazards. As I began to learn about Mayslake from this gentleman caretaker, first on the list of stories to address, of course, was the story that everyone had heard. So I asked him. THE LEGEND OF PEABODY'S TOMB The first thing to get out of the way is that, for Chicago area ghost hunters, there are two so-called "Monks' Castles." For those who grew up in the south suburbs, where the church of St. James at Sag Bridge--and its churchyard burial ground--were called thus, you may not know that the western suburban kids had their own "Monks' Castle" at the Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, which became a monastery after the death of the Lord of the Manor as it were. Both of these sites were known for priests or monks who would take it upon themselves to chase away young people stealing on to the grounds to search for something supernatural. The Peabody Estate was built by Francis Stuyvesant Peabody, a coal magnate, and designed by the firm of Marshall & Fox, which also designed the Drake, Blackstone and Edgewater Beach Hotels in Chicago. The house sits on a wide lawn opening to Mayslake, named for Peabody's daughter, on a huge tract of land in Oak Brook, just west of Chicago. After Peabody's death during a fox hunt on the grounds, the property went to the Franciscan Order, and the monks moved in. It wasn't long before rumors began that Peabody's corpse had been preserved in formaldehyde and lay in state, suspended in a glass coffin on the altar of the little Portiuncula Chapel, which still stands on the grounds. As the rumors spread, area teenagers began to make the night time trek to the grounds to try for a look inside "Peabody's Tomb." In time, the estate became one of the most bothered and vandalized hotspots for young peoples' shenanigans and initiations. But of course, the monks won. Kids began avoiding the property like the plague after hearing that, if apprehended by the monks at Mayslake, one would be forced to kneel on salt, broken glass, or a broomstick handle for the rest of the night, praying for forgiveness. Like St. James-Sag, there are more memories of the story than of actual run-ins with the brothers. But what about the body? What about Peabody's tomb? Well, sadly, none of it is true. The Portiuncula Chapel is just that: a lovely little church which is, today, a popular spot for weddings. Peabody was never there. He is interred in a nearby cemetery, but did not want his whereabouts disclosed, probably partially feeding the early rumors. And as for the body in the glass casket? The origin of this story is cloudy, but there is a plausible explanation. The monks owned a relic (bone fragment or other bodily fragment) or St. Innocentius. This holy man was different from POPE Innocent, who is one of the "incorruptibles": saints whose bodies never decomposed. His body is displayed in a glass casket in St. Peter's Basililca in Rome. In fact, he was moved to make way for the body of Blessed John Paul II. It's possible that someone heard about the relic, then heard that POPE Innocent was interred in a glass casket, then rumor somehow changed him into Peabody and the chapel into the tomb. Stranger tales have developed from seeds of truth, haven't they? But the Peabody state is, absolutely, haunted. There are several ghosts that remain at this institution. One is that of a young boy who was the child of a housekeeper who worked for Francis Peabody. One afternoon, the child--at play with a ball--became absentminded and fell down a long, steep flight of stairs behind the kitchen. His death shook the staff to their core. I can't quite express to this day the feeling of dread I would get when passing from the new wing where I slept into the main house by way of the kitchen hallway. For me to say that there is no doubt in my mind that this was a severely haunted area is an understatement indeed. Literally, I still sometimes dream about that hallway and that feeling. Joe also told me that there had been an exorcism in the great House when the brothers lived there in its monastery days. During cases of genuine possession, the Church usually mandates that exorcisms--when they are sanctioned--be done in churches, recotries, monasteries, convents or other religiously designated spaces. We are told that, during exorcisms, it is not uncommon for the place of exorcism to retain "energy" from the exorcism, sometimes for generations, so this is another possibility for the haunting experiences of the Peabody Estate. Oily Residue: The Haunting of the Peabody Estate
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