Group explores rumors about area's haunted sites

October 25, 2006

A young woman walks among the tombstones, cradling a crying infant in her arms. She is humming or singing to comfort him. Maybe she's crying a little, too.

The next town over, a man walks along the side of the road. He doesn't have a head, or perhaps the headless figure is carrying his noggin in his hands.

Just east of there sits a golf course where duffers can hear the sound of Indian tom-toms. Occasionally, they can see balls of light. It seems as if they're being watched, but nobody else is around.

Are the above stories evidence that spooky places exist in the Lincoln-Way area, or just the figments of overzealous imaginations?

The answer, of course, depends on whom you ask.

Underlying truth

Some of the spooky tales may have some underlying truth, according to Dan Jungles, director of the Will County Ghost Hunters Society.

Jungles' group says it picked up evidence of paranormal activity at the Frankfort Township Cemetery, located in a quiet area north of U.S. 30 and east of LaGrange Road. It's the oldest cemetery in Will County, with graves dating back to the 1800s.

Jungles believes he has captured on tape the voice of the infant-carrying woman walking amongst the tombstones

"It hurts," the woman said, according to Jungles.

And when Jungles asked the woman whether he could take her photo or record her, she answered, "No."

Jungles and his associates have done thousands of investigations over the past five years. They use high-tech equipment like electro-magnetic field detectors, Geiger and ion counters, sophisticated thermometers and digital cameras.

Township Trustee Nella Piccolin, who has researched the cemetery's history, said she has never heard of a ghost spotting there, nor has she seen anything strange at Frankfort's other historic cemetery, Pleasant Hill, located east of Elsner Road.

But Piccolin has heard people talk about a ghostly form that roams up and down Elsner Road, where long ago, local legends say, a man died mysteriously in a barn.

Piccolin has also heard about foggy shapes that float around Hickory Creek. As the story goes, Chicago gangsters used to bury their victims in the woods near the creek. The shapes were the ghosts of the dead telling people where they were buried, she said.

Eerie Woods

Jungles said there have been other reports of spooky activity in the Hickory Creek Woods. People walking alone through the woods have reported seeing shadows walking beside them. When they turn to look, the shadows are gone.

"A lot of people see things out of the corners of their eyes, and when they turn, it's gone," Jungles said. The mind perceives objects differently when they're seen through peripheral vision rather than head-on, he explained.

Similar stories are told at the Messenger Woods Nature Preserve, just north of New Lenox.

At that preserve, hikers have reported seeing a shadow other than there own, only to turn around and find nobody. Drivers passing by have also reported seeing shadows pass in front of their vehicles; some drivers even reported hearing screams.

The shadows are probably residual spirits, a leftover presence of a person who was once there, Jungles said. These spirits are like a tape playing over and over again, unlike the cemetery ghost, which is an intelligent spirit that interacts and responds to people, he said.

Haunted motel

Another residual-type spirit may be haunting the Abe Lincoln Motel on the historic Lincoln Highway, east of Wolf Road, in Frankfort. According to rumors, people staying in the motel report waking up to see a girl in her late teens or early 20s in their room. In a flash, she is gone.

People have also reported hearing crying or encountering cold spots at the motel, Jungles said. However, his investigations have not turned up any evidence of spirits.

Judy Kordik, who with her late husband, Joseph, opened the 17-room motel in 1958, called the ghost reports "nonsense" and "baloney."

People probably saw a maid or heard a creaky radiator, she said. "I lived there 48 years and none of it ever existed," she said.

Ominous links

Indian tom-toms can supposedly be heard by golfers at the Sanctuary Golf Course in New Lenox.

Robert Lucente, an assistant pro at the course, said he's never run into anything strange.

"I haven't encountered anything at all, and I haven't heard any haunted stories," Lucente said.

The stories of haunted happenings stem from the discovery of two Indian bodies in 1993 by crews constructing the course.

The bodies later were excavated and reburied but not before touching off an Indian protest of the golf course site.

A year long study by archaeologists determined remains belonged to members of the Miami Tribe in Oklahoma. Two long houses and ancient artifacts discovered at the course determined that Native Americans did live on the property centuries ago.

But archeologists found no evidence to support the theory of the ancient burial ground.

Intersection of horror

A headless man has apparently been seen by drivers near Gougar Road and U.S. 6 on the northwest end of New Lenox.

As the story goes, the ghost is that of a farmer who committed suicide by hanging himself in a nearby barn.

Jungles said most spirits are the result of somebody who may have died in mysterious ways.

"There's a strong emotional tie that keeps them in the area," he said. "They feel like they are not done with their lives yet. It's somebody who suddenly passes. Perhaps its somebody who is killed in an accident, or a fire, or even a suicide."

Reporter Patrick Ferrell can be reached at (815)729 - 6037 or Karen Hanson can be reached at