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December 3, 2014

Resurrection Catholic Cemetery & Mausoleums

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Written by: Devlin Woods

The Legend of Resurrection Mary

It was during the 1930s that blonde, blue-eyed Mary was last seen alive at the O’Henry Ballroom outside of Chicago, now called the Willowbrook Ballroom. After getting into a fight with her boyfriend at a dance party, young Mary left the ballroom in a huff and was tragically struck by a car and left to die on the side of Archer Road.

Mary, whose living identity is uncertain, became known as “Resurrection Mary” because of her presence at the nearby Resurrection Cemetery. Since the accident, motorists have claimed that a quiet woman in a white party dress has hitched a ride with them along Archer Road, only to vanish from the back seat. The earliest known encounter was in 1939, when cab driver Jerry Palus picked her up at the cemetery and spent the night dancing with her. She was cold to the touch, and disappeared on the ride back.

Although silent and benign, Mary is an anxious spirit. Along with her vacillating rides to the ballroom and the cemetery, she sometimes causes panic in motorists by stepping in front of their cars. Why would she want to return to the very place she was so eager to leave? Perhaps she is seeking absolution for her last memory, her painful lover’s quarrel.


Possible physical evidence of Resurrection Mary are handprints, wrapped around the tall iron gate surrounding the cemetery. One evening, decades after her death, a witness saw a young woman gripping the gates of the cemetery from the inside. When police officers arrived at the scene, she was nowhere to be found–but the fingerprints and the damage done to the bars can still be seen at the cemetery today.

Resurrection Mary has been featured on Unsolved Mysteries, and has inspired two horror films (Resurrection Mary (2005) and (2007)), as well as songs by Ian Hunter and the band Vandaveer. She’s been an object of fascination for paranormal experts like the late Richard Crowe, and Ursula Bielski. Bielski believes the true identity of Resurrection Mary may be a 12-year-old Polish girl named Anna Norkus, nicknamed Marija, who died on her ride home from the ballroom. Others believe that Mary’s story serves as a tough moral lesson for young women who are tempted to tango with young men.

If this was the original purpose of spreading Mary’s tragic story, it hasn’t succeeded. To search for Mary is a rite of passage for teenage drivers, especially boys. Her beauty, innocence, and sadness are alluring to men, and like an indelible one-night-stand, memories of Mary have haunted them long after the fact.


Resurrection Catholic Cemetery & Mausoleums
Consecrated 1904
7201 Archer Ave.
Justice, IL 60458


About the Author

Devlin Woods
Devlin Woods
Devlin Woods was born and raised in one of the darkest and coldest regions of the world. Maybe that's why she's fascinated by all things bleak and desolate, like the frozen wasteland where Frankenstein battled his monster- or the empty souls of serial killers.

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