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  • Wendy Moxley Roe

The White Women of Bachelors Grove Cemetery

Updated: Apr 24, 2019


The quilted "Madonna" stone in Bachelors Grove Cemetery, Midlothian, IL

Accounts of a woman in white being sited in Bachelors Grove Cemetery in Midlothian, IL go as far back as about 50 years. During a visit to Bachelors Grove in 1979 a local research group captured  on film what appeared to be  a hooded white figure holding a baby in its arm. Other accounts over the years have varied. She has been described as a woman in a long white dress, a mist in the shape of a woman, sometimes wandering through the cemetery as though searching for something and some sometimes carrying an infant. Others claim to have seen a white woman who appears to be distressed and/or weeping. Two local police officers were even reported as seeing a misty figure carrying a baby during a routine patrol.


The "Madonna" ghost legend is one of the most well known associated with Bachelors Grove Cemetery . It is also the most speculated and highly discussed topic regarding the Grove. Discussions can run on for hours leaving you with more questions than you began with. There are many different aspects of this legend that led to the legendary question ...Who is the Madonna of Bachelors Grove?? 


Judy Huff Felz 1991 famous "Madonna" photo.

The ghostly figure is known by many names. This is probably due to the variation in each siting. "The Lady in White, White Lady, Mrs. Rogers and the Madonna  are the most common. The legend itself has become confusing as it is hard to distinguish whether or not these sightings are of the same phenomena or completely different entities. 

The Madonna reference became popular after 1991, when Judy Huff caught an image of a woman sitting on a quilted headstone inside Bachelors Grove Cemetery. The photo appeared in Newspapers across the country, and Bachelors Grove was in the spotlight once again.


Judy's photograph has been examined many times by many different people and there has been nothing found that could prove the photo as being anything but legitimate. Judy recently appeared on Ghost Adventures Aftershock where she provided the negative to a film expert who once again verified that the photo was legitimate and had not been tampered with.

This photo is one of the most well known "ghost" photos in the world. People travel far and wide to have their picture taken in the Madonna pose on this now famous stone. 


The theories about who this white misty figure is have been researched and written about many times. There are many good theories out there that are backed by excellent evidence. There are also versions of the story out there that are backed by sensationalized stories presented as fact. We have looked at length at most of these theories. Dissected them, talked to people and have sorted out some of what is fact and what is pure speculation. Here are those that we find the most convincing :


#1) LUELLA FULTON ROGERS


One of the most popular theories tells of a mother buried next to her infant in the cemetery. We believe that this version of the legend comes from a mixture of local lore and incorrect burial information.


The Fulton Family headston, Lot #15 in Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

Luella Fulton is buried in lot #15 beneath the large Fulton stone which stands beside the infant daughter stone.  One of the common misconceptions was that the infant daughter referred to on the stone was the daughter of Luella Fulton and her husband Daniel Rogers as they were buried in the lot beside where the infant stone is located. This may have led to the lady apparition being referred to as Mrs. Rogers by some.


The Mrs. Rogers name may well have started because of the circumstances of her death.

Luella married Daniel later in life. They never had any children. Newspaper articles that ran after her death in 1944 told how she devoted her life to her family and community. She was well loved by all.


Luella Fulton

As she was walking home one evening along Oak Park Ave in Tinley Park, she was struck by a car and thrown into a ditch on the side of the road. The driver, having never stopped, left Luella seriously injured in the ditch. Hours later a neighbor finally heard her cries for help. She was taken to a hospital but died the next day from internal injuries. They never found the person who hit her. What better reason for a roaming, restless spirit than a violent death that no one has answered for.








#2) KATHRYN VOGT FULTON


Eventually more research on burial lots in the Grove became public it was then noted by family members that the child  whom the infant stone actually belonged to was that of Marci May Fulton, daughter of Kathryn Vogt and Bert Fulton, neither of whom are buried in Bachelors Grove.


The Infant Daughter Headstone in Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

Kathryn was Luella's sister in law. She married Luella's brother Bertrand Fulton, Son of John and Hulda Fulton who rest beneath the large Fulton stone in Bachelors Grove Cemetery. Kathryn and Bert were the love story of the ages, raised by families of opposing religions, the Vogt family being German Protestant and the Fultons Irish Catholic. Both were influential families and original settlers's. The family story, says Julie Dekker, Vogt family historian and director of the Vogt Visual Art Center, goes that both fathers were not happy about the match and so Bert and Kathryn eloped October 10, 1911. At this day and time that was a pretty scandalous thing to do.



Bert and Kathryn Wedding Portrait courtesy Tinley Park Historical Society

Their first Child Marci May died at under a year old in 1914. She was buried, like so many other infants of young couples, in Bachelors Grove in her grandparents family plot. The rest of Marci's immediate family is buried in Zion Lutheran Cemetery in Tinley Park.

Is it Kathryn that is seen walking in Bachelors Grove Cemetery holding her infant Marci May? This story seems to fit with the description of a mother holding a baby. Could it be Kathryn, a grieving mother, visiting her infant child that she could not see during her life here on earth?















#3)AMELIA PATRICK HUMPHREY


Amelia was the first wife of Orland Senator John Humphrey. Amelia's family were some of the first settlers in the area as well (starting to see a pattern here?), her father William Patrick was a very wealthy local farmer who had immigrated from Scotland with his Parents Alexander and Ann in 1828. In 1846 they moved to the farm that was just blocks away from Bachelors Grove Cemetery at the time.


A young Senator John Humphrey and his first wife Amelia Patrick

Amelia and John were married in 1863, their first child was a daughter, Libby May, born in 1865 and died at 11 months old. She was buried in the Patrick family lot (#44) in Bachelors Grove, alongside Amelia's grandmother Ann and two of her {Amelia's} young siblings who died just 3 years before Libby May.

In the following years after Libby Mays death , John and Amelia would have six more children. They would lose three more of those in Amelia's lifetime, only three of their seven children surviving to adulthood.They named two of their daughters after Amelia's young sisters, Lillie and Clara, who had died only months apart in 1862 at the ages of 2 and 6. Both sisters are buried in the Patrick family lot in Bachelors Grove{Inscription on side of the Patrick stone}. Libby May is the only Humphrey buried in Bachelors Grove, the rest of her siblings and immediate family are buried in Zion Lutheran Evangelical Cemetery in Tinley Park.  

Amelia, in her early adulthood, was surrounded by the death of young ones. The impact of losing two young sisters is evident in the renaming of her daughters after the lost siblings and the loss of a child is one of life’s greatest tragedies to endure. In her lifetime Amelia survived the loss of 7 children close to her, the majority in the span of about 15 years. Did this grief weigh so heavily on Amelia that it even followed her through to her next life? 


What remains of the Patrick family headstone, Lot #44 in Bachelors Grove Cemetery

Popular theory names Amelia as possibly being the famous white lady or “Madonna” reportedly seen roaming Bachelors Grove Cemetery. After piecing Amelia’s story together a little further we believe this supports the theory. Not only is her first born buried in Bachelors Grove, but two beloved young sisters. In her lifetime she buried four of her children and did not live long enough to see much of the lives of those who survived. What better candidate than a woman so affected by the loss of children that the desire to protect the young would hold her, in some form, here in this world even though she has passed to another? It does seem like a good explanation for a cloaked figure floating through the cemetery weeping for all the little ones buried in the grove that never had the chance to live.




William Rick Sr and his brother John with their wives. Three of those pictured here are buried in Bachelors Grove Cemetery. Photo courtesy of Tinley Park Historical Society

#4) MARY CAGUE RICK


In 2014 Karl and I measured out lots in Bachelors Grove Cemetery to try to determine which lot the the quilted stone actually sits on. The measurements, cross referenced with a plot grid in Brad Bettenhausens' 1995 edition of Where The Trails Cross, indicate that the stone sits on lot #73 which belongs to  William and Mary Rick .  

Mary Ann Cague married William Rick in 1895. In 1899 Mary died from  what her death certificate names as Septicemia (blood infection) , the cause was childbirth.

For a long time it was unknown to us what happened to the child after Mary Died. In Winter of 2018 after making a connection with a descendant of that child, we located records showing that he spent his life in Blue Island as well. It appears that the child left Williams household as a young man possibly due to the fact that William remarried in 1909. This is only a theory but is supported by the 1910  census showing William as living with his new wife in Bremen but no children are listed as being in the household. By then the child, a boy also named William, was about 11. In that day old enough to venture out on his own and start to make his way. He shows up in the 1920 census as living in Bremen as a companion to a 72 woman and working in a lumbar yard. He married Marie Bruening in July of 1922 and six months later In January of 1923 his wife gave birth to a son. Then in 1925, in a horribly bizarre coincidence, Marie died in childbirth with their second child, a girl Virginia, just as his mother had.


Could Mary be the one wandering the cemetery looking for the baby she never got to hold? Is she the one that was spotted roaming the cemetery appearing to look for something. In the several lots surrounding Mary Rick's final resting place, there are six children under the age of five buried, four of which were infants. Having died during or because of childbirth, did the tragedy of these events and of those buried around her move Mary to become a protector of the sad innocent souls  around her? 


Irving and Hattie Adams with three of their six children. Photo Courtesy of Elaine Brinkman, Hattie and Irvings Grand daughter

#5) HATTIE STRUTZENBURG ADAMS


In the very southwest corner is lot #82, where Hattie Adams is buried with at least one of her children, possibly two. She died of tuberculosis at just 25 years old. She and her husband had six children, three of which died in the 2 years before Hattie did. 

As the other stories do, this family lot is full of tragedy as well . The adult Hattie was only 15 years old when she married 20 year old Irving Adams. Her father did not like Irving and thus did not approve of the marriage. They eloped in 1904 . Hattie and Irving's first child , Irving Jr, was born the following February of 1906. Over the next 7 years Hattie had 5 more children. Hattie in 1906, May in 1907, Walter in 1909, Dorothy in 1911 and Esther in 1912.

May was the first to pass in October 1909 at just 2 yrs old. Walter followed a year later just a month short of his first birthday and Esther in July of 1913 at 18 months old.

Hattie died of Tuberculosis six months after Ester passed. Irving was so distraught at the loss of his wife that he was incapacitated and her father had to make arrangements. She was buried in a family plot in Bachelor Grove with her Two daughters. It is strange that the two daughters were buried in Bachelors Grove and Hattie's son Walter's death certificate shows Forest Home to be his place of burial. Why would they bury one in BG, then one in Forest Home, then the third and the mother in BG? We are guessing that it had something to do with money. Bachelors Grove, from what we know, seems to have been the local burial place for those who could not afford anything else.

Also in lot #82 is Hattie Julia Strutzenburg. According to her death certificate, this infant was premature and only lived about 36 hours . We believe this infant to be an illegitimate child born out of wedlock to Hattie's younger sister Lillie. Lillie is the only parent on the death index and is listed with her maiden name. The space for the fathers Name simply states Strutzenburg.

Hattie's story certainly makes a compelling case in support of the theory that she could be the mysterious white woman spotted in the grove so often. It has all the sad elements and similarities as the others do.


There are 14 children under the age of 10 buried in Bachelors Grove Cemetery, all with tragic stories and grief stricken parents left behind. The ladies above not only lost their children but most lost their own lives at a young untimely age shortly after. Are all of the reports describing the same spirit or is there something more going on in this cemetery? Could the collective despair of the many who lost their precious little ones have created something that draws them back to Bachelors Grove Cemetery? Could they all be different souls pulled to this place to visit their lost babies and to protect the others?

As I said in the beginning the questions just keep coming and they always will. There will never be definitive answers but that wont stop us from looking for them!


Thank You all for Reading, Until next time.... make sure you visit Karl and my Bachelors Grove Cemetery www.thepathtobachelorsgrove.com


Much love and light to you all,

Wendy




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