October 22, 2007
Maybe it was just the wind. Maybe your eyes are playing tricks on you. Or maybe you, too, have encountered one of the many rumored spirits of Orland Park.
With Halloween fast approaching, residents don't have to look too far to find a good scare. Just a bone's throw away is the infamously haunted Bachelor's Grove cemetery, which falls into a part of Orland Township near Central Avenue and Midlothian Turnpike, and the John Humphrey House, located at 9830 West 144th Place.
The Humphrey House was discovered as a potentially haunted house when Edward L. Shanahan, one of Chicago's most respected psychics, happened to be driving past the historic landmark. Shanahan said he was pulled to the location, which was unbeknownst to the public as haunted, and walked up and knocked on the door.
"I felt drawn there," he said. "There is more to this location than meets the eyes."
The Humphrey House, constructed in 1881, was previously owned by Senator John Humphrey and was the second house ever built in Orland Park. The supposed ghosts of the home are said to be Humphrey's wives, including his first wife, who was found dead in their home in 1898, and their first child, who died at birth.
After finding the home, Shanahan got together with Ursula Bielski, founder of Chicago Hauntings, Inc. and a well-known writer, speaker and researcher of the paranormal, to plan one of their "Beyond the Veil" events at the Humphrey House on Sept. 15.
At this "Beyond the Veil" event, Bielski and Shanahan escorted more than a dozen participants through the house and made several observations of paranormal activity while testing the presence of spirits.
"We all felt that the Humphrey House had a feeling of heaviness and oppression," Bielski said.
According to Bielski, everyone in attendance had paranormal experiences with dowsing rods, which are used to communicate with the forces in the house.
"Some members seemed to make contact with each of John Humphrey's wives and with a child that died while living in the house--perhaps the former Mrs. Humphrey's baby," she said. "We all felt that it is very much haunted by the deep emotional trauma of those who lived in the house."
Bob Elli, president of the Orland Park Historical Society, was one of the attendees of the event.
"I do believe that there are spirits are all throughout the community," Elli said. "That particular night we had an interesting experience."
One of the events that caught Elli off-guard was the discovery of a mysterious crack in the wall that not only rippled through the plaster, but also crossed into the glass and frame of a picture hanging on the wall.
"We've been in the house for quite a while, and we never noticed that," Elli said.
Elli was also a little spooked when a flaming candle fizzled down to a spark right as Shanahan said that Senator Humphrey had entered the room. According to Elli, when Shanahan ordered that Humphrey leave the room, the flame returned.
"Maybe the wind was blowing, but Shanahan said this could only be the senator," Elli remembered.
Elli added that the event was not deathly serious.
"It was kind of a happy-go-lucky group. They were laughing about this and that—it was a good mood," he said.
The Humphreys also are connected to another nearby spooky spot, Bachelor's Grove Cemetery.
Mrs. Humphrey's family had a family plot at the cemetery, where she and Mr. Humphrey's first baby was buried. Mrs. Humphrey was buried at a different cemetery than her first child, and it is rumored that she could potentially be the Madonna of Bachelor's Grove, an apparition of a woman holding an infant child.
Other sources argue that the Madonna is John Fulton's wife. The Fultons have one of the largest monuments in the cemetery, and it is also one of the few markers that have not been destroyed by vandals.
Brad Bettenhausen, president of the Tinley Park Historical Society, said there are three common stories told about the cemetery: the disappearing house, the escaped mental patient with a hook and the story of the boyfriend hanging from a tree above his girlfriend's car.
Bettenhausen added that the stories are fabrications, and that he has never witnessed anything supernatural in Bachelor's Grove.
The cemetery can be visited during the day for those who are brave enough to walk its grounds, but it is not accessible at night because it is surrounded by a forest preserve that closes at dusk. Violators of this rule will be arrested for trespassing.
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Do you think the John Humphrey house in Orland Park is haunted?
Yes, I believe it is filled with spirits
Maybe, I would need more proof
No, I don't believe in ghost stories