If you have a really good arm, you might be able to hit a baseball out of Chicago’s Wrigley Field and into Lake Willowmere. This is the small pond in nearby Graceland Cemetery. If you went hunting for your home run ball, you could also take in some great ghost hunting at this legendary graveyard. Many well-known Chicagoans are buried here alongside many not-so-famous citizens.
Regardless of their fame, they all seem to “co-exist” in happy harmony. Some Graceland Legends Most of Graceland’s paranormal legends are no more than just good ghost stories. For example, no one has actually seen the green-eyed “ghost dog.” This dog supposedly guards the entrance to the underground tomb of Ludwig Wolff. Still, people who live in the apartment buildings just beyond the cemetery’s fence say that the dog howls all night long whenever the moon is full. Nor has anyone ever looked into the eyes of Lorado Taft’s famous sculpture Eternal Silence and, according to folklore, caught a glimpse of their own death. The sculpture is nicknamed the “Statue of Death” and is located next to the tomb of Dexter Graves. It is probably the most popular monument in the entire cemetery. The dark, hooded figure of Eternal Silence has scared plenty of visitors who have come to see it.
The Death of Inez Clarke
Of Graceland’s many ghost stories, one stands out as being more believable than the rest. That is the story of a little girl named Inez Clarke. Some historians claim that Inez never existed. Still, many people report having seen her ghost near the beautiful statue that bears her name. According to the story, Inez died of tuberculosis when she was only seven years old. In the late 1800s, it was not uncommon for deaths to occur at a young age. Advanced medical knowledge and medicines were not available to treat serious diseases.
Inez was an only child, and her death left her parents full of sadness. In her honor, her parents, who were very rich, had a lovely sculpture made for her grave. It looked just like Inez, with long, curly hair and a pretty smile, wearing her favorite dress and holding an umbrella. The statue so beautiful and so lifelike that strangers came to Graceland just to see it.
The Disappearing Statue
Sometimes when visitors showed up at Inez’s grave, they would find that the statue was missing. Disappointed, their next stop would be at the cemetery office. There, they would ask whether the statue was being cleaned or repaired. They would also ask when it would be returned to the gravesite so they could come back and see it. In reply, the confused cemetery workers would insist that the statue was right where it should be.
After walking the visitors back to Inez’s grave, however, the workers would be shocked to find that the heavy sculpture
was, indeed, gone! What’s more, every time these “thefts” were reported to police, gravediggers would find the statue back in place, with no sign of damage. Soon, the cemetery workers got fed up with the incidents. They decided to do
something to stop the mischievous people who, they thought, must be stealing the statue as a prank. A solid glass case was built to protect Inez’s sculpture and to prevent its removal.
The glass case was fastened securely to the base of the statue so that it could never be stolen again. Nevertheless, after a few nights, a security guard making his rounds came upon Inez’s grave. Sure enough, the glass case was still in place, but the statue of Inez was gone!
Today, the beautiful sculpture of Inez Clarke still stands at Graceland—at least most of the time. The glass case remains there, too, protecting it from “thieves.” As always, it doesn’t seem to do much good. Many visitors to Graceland still find that the statue has disappeared. Where Does the Statue of Inez Go? A few stories have tried to explain the disappearances. One says that because the statue is so lifelike, it has confused Inez’s spirit. The spirit believes that the statue is Inez’s body. When the spirit enters the statue, it is able to run and play just as Inez did during her brief lifetime. This, the story insists, became so much fun for Inez that to this day she continues to run around the cemetery. She doesn’t realize that she’s dead!
Another, story is more sinister. This one says that Inez’s sculpture only disappears during big thunderstorms. It then reappears after the storms have passed. Those who believe this story are convinced that Inez did not die from tuberculosis. Instead, she died when a bolt of lightning struck her during a storm. According to this story, Inez’s parents carelessly left her locked outside during a terrible rainstorm. When they realized what they had done, it was too late.
Because Inez’s death came so suddenly, the little girl never realized that she was dead. When her wandering spirit saw the statue over her grave, it happily moved into it. Now, during loud, scary thunderstorms, little Inez becomes terrified. She runs away and hides until the storm passes and the sun comes out again. Whichever story you believe —if you believe any of it at all—the grave of Inez Clarke is worth visiting. As you stroll through beautiful Graceland, you just might come upon a joyful little girl dressed in old fashioned clothes. Don’t be surprised if she is delighted to find a new playmate!