Chicago Sun-Times

GHOST BUSTED?

If you’re han­ker­ing for the truth be­hind a leg­endary Chicago haunt­ing — have I got a story for you.

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If you want to be spooked, Chicago’s your town. We’ve got the phan­toms of Fort Dear­born, the spir­its of Mon­trose Point and ol’ Res­ur­rec­tion Mary, the ghostly hitch­hiker who sup­pos­edly stalks Archer Av­enue.

Clarence Darrow’s ghost is said to show up at a bridge near the Mu­seum of Science and In­dus­try. The owner of the Red Lion Pub, Joseph Heinen, swears he’s heard foot­steps and a wo­man scream­ing, “Help me,” on the Lin­coln Park tav­ern’s sec­ond floor. And there’s plenty more ghost sto­ries to go around.

In fact, I’m al­most con­vinced some­thing su­per­nat­u­ral locked my cat in the up­stairs bath­room with a bag of sea shells the night I moved in to my house in Pull­man.

How much you be­lieve any of that is re­ally up to you. But if you’re han­ker­ing for the truth be­hind a leg­endary Chicago haunt­ing — have I got a story for you.

It starts, of course, on a dark and stormy night — Aug. 1, 1880.

Inez Clarke had been a naughty girl that day. Her par­ents locked her out of the house as pun­ish­ment.

Clouds gath­ered and the sky rum­bled. The wind howled and a cold, hard rain fell on the muddy city. In the vi­o­lent dark­ness, the storm let loose a light­ning bolt that struck lit­tle Inez dead. She was just 6 years old.

Her par­ents, over­come with guilt and re­gret, told peo­ple tu­ber­cu­lo­sis killed their daugh­ter.

They buried the girl at Grace­land Ceme­tery in Up­town, the fi­nal rest­ing place of early Chicago’s most fa­mous cit­i­zens — Mar­shall Field, Cyrus McCormick, Pot­ter Palmer and Ge­orge Pull­man among them.

Inez’s par­ents marked their daugh­ter’s grave with a life­like mar­ble statue of her sit­ting cross-legged in a lace dress, hold­ing a para­sol and wear­ing a rib­bon in her long wavy hair — her gaze for­ever fixed on the hori­zon.

Ever since, leg­end has it, Inez Clarke has haunted Grace­land.

On the an­niver­sary of her death or when a storm rolls in, the girl’s spirit is said to in­habit the statue above her fi­nal rest­ing place.

Some folks have “seen” tears stream­ing from the mar­ble girl’s face. A night watch­man once re­ported the statue van­ished from inside the plex­i­glass case that pro­tects it. Chil­dren play­ing in the park­like grounds have told their par­ents they’ve met a lit­tle girl wear­ing “funny clothes” named Inez at Grace­land.

Thou­sands of peo­ple come to the grave­yard ev­ery year hop­ing to see her. Some folks even leave toys or coins at her grave in hopes she’ll come out to play.

Ur­sula Bielski, an au­thor who spent most of her life chas­ing ghost sto­ries and runs Chicago’s Ghost Tours, says Inez’s spirit lingers in the grave­yard to bring the truth out about her death.

She claims to have talked to peo­ple who know of some­one who’s spot­ted Inez’s spirit frol­ick­ing in the grave­yard.

There’s only one prob­lem with that — no one named Inez Clarke is buried at Grace­land.

In fact, there may never have been an Inez Clarke, says Al Walavich, a his­to­rian, tour guide and Chicago ceme­tery know-it-all.

“Based on ceme­tery records there’s no such per­son buried in that grave,” Al says.

He’s even looked up U.S. Cen­sus records from the 1800s and found “no in­di­ca­tion that such a child ever ex­isted.”

There’s even an af­fi­davit from Inez’s “sup­posed mother” is­sued in 1910 — 30 years af­ter the child’s death — that claims the Clarkes had two daugh­ters, both of whom were still liv­ing at the time. The doc­u­ment also stated nei­ther par­ent had any other chil­dren, Walavich says.

“And the most telling fact was that one of the Clarke fam­ily [rel­a­tives] had been in touch with ceme­tery about statue and grave. When asked who Inez was, she said, ‘I have no idea, but isn’t it a lovely statue,’ ” he says. “It’s kind of hard to have a haunt­ing when the sup­posed per­son never re­ally ex­isted.”

Walavich says ceme­tery records show an 8-year-old boy, Amos Briggs, is buried un­der the Inez Clarke statue ac­cord­ing to ceme­tery records.

Aki Lew, Grace­land’s ad­min­is­tra­tive man­ager, vouched for Walavich’s re­search.

“Ev­ery­thing Al said is true,” says Lew, who 10 years ago took a phone call from the Clarke fam­ily de­scen­dant. “The story of Inez has be­come en­hanced. . . . She be­came pop­u­lar about 12 years ago when some­one wanted to write a book and em­bel­lished on it.”

Lew is of course re­fer­ring to Bielski, who penned Chicago Haunts: Ghostly Lore of the Windy City, and other au­thors who’ve fur­thered the leg­end of Inez in print and on the In­ter­net.

But why is that sculp­ture of Inez at Grace­land?

Well, the statue was prob­a­bly an ad­ver­tise­ment for the work of Scot­tish mon­u­ment maker Andrew Gage, who com­pleted the statue in 1881.

“I truly think Gage wanted to make sure his work was be­ing seen and this spe­cific sec­tion of the ceme­tery was an ac­tive sec­tion at that time,” Walavich says.

“Why it stayed there? We have no idea.”

At least that’s still a mys­tery.

 ??  ?? The Inez Clarke statue at Grace­land Ceme­tery de­picts a girl with a para­sol.
The Inez Clarke statue at Grace­land Ceme­tery de­picts a girl with a para­sol.
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 ?? BRIAN JACK­SON~SUN-TIMES ?? Al Walavich is a tour guide and an ex­pert on Grace­land Ceme­tery where many no­table Chicagoans are buried.
BRIAN JACK­SON~SUN-TIMES Al Walavich is a tour guide and an ex­pert on Grace­land Ceme­tery where many no­table Chicagoans are buried.

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