What Magical Spell Did Ghost Adventures Cast Over Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery?

Many times, I’ve whined about the fact that even though my blog is approaching 10,000 views this year alone, very few readers feel the need to leave comments. But here’s one post I’m really hoping people respond to, especially since it concerns a question I don’t have an answer to. To put it bluntly, I can’t figure out how the heck Ghost Adventures managed to get permission to investigate inside Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery at night.

Ghost Adventures in the woods near Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery –via the Travel Channel

For the uninitiated, Bachelor’s Grove is an abandoned cemetery located on the Southwest side of Chicago. Early records are sketchy at best, but it is believed that the first burials were in 1844. For many years, the cemetery, which sits within the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve, could only be reached by a small road that wound its way through the woods. When the road closed down, the woods would have all but swallowed up the cemetery, had it not been for the teenagers who started making their way out there to do a bit of legend tripping. By the 1960s, the cemetery had already begun to fall victim to vandals…and the ghost stories were not far behind.

Today, Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is considered by many to be one of the most haunted places in the United States, if not the world. It’s not uncommon to find the cemetery sitting atop numerous “Top 10 Most Haunted” lists, due largely to the staggering amount of reported ghost sightings said to take place here. In addition to your standard ghostly figures, there are also reports of ghost cars, a ghost horse, and even a ghost house. And the sightings have spread out so as to not just include the cemetery, but also the surrounding woods. The nearby pond is even said to be haunted by the ghosts of “Mafia victims” who were unceremoniously dumped there.

The entrance to Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery –via The Ghosts of Ohio

With all these ghost stories swirling around this little cemetery in the woods, it’s easy to see why Bachelor’s Grove, for several decades now, is considered a popular destination for people to look for ghosts… or just get drunk and scare the heck out of each other. I’ve personally been visiting the cemetery on and off since the late 90s and have yet to go when I didn’t either bump into people there or else find remnants of their visits (usually in the form of snack wrappers and beer bottles) along the way. The cemetery’s part of the Forest Preserve, so it’s open to the public during the day. But like most cemeteries, it is closed from dusk until dawn. Of course, nighttime is when most people try to get inside the cemetery. And that’s something the locals simply don’t stand for.

You see, for as long as I can remember, stories of ghosts in Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery have gone hand-in-hand with reports of people being arrested and/or ticketed for trying to get into the cemetery after dark. Even today, the area is regularly patrolled by both the local police and the Forest Reserve. I don’t know if it’s because of the repeated vandalism in the cemetery or just because they have grown weary of running thrill seekers out after dark, but I’ve met more than a few of the men and women who patrol the area and they all have one thing in common: they don’t care who you are or why you’re there. If it’s after dark, you’re at least getting ticketed. End of story.

I’ve also met numerous individuals and organizations who have tried to go through the proper channels to get permission to investigate and/or film there after dark. The response has always been the same: “no”. A few years back, I even tried to interview some of the people who patrolled the area to see if they had encountered anything ghostly. The only response I was given was that “there are no ghosts there. Just an old cemetery.” Clearly, authorities are wishing the ghost stories, and to some extent the cemetery, would just fade from public view.

Some of the vandalized tombstones inside Bachelor’s Grover Cemetery –via The Ghosts of Ohio

Which brings me to my big question. Last Friday, I’m flipping through the channels and I see Ghost Adventures is on. I don’t normally watch the show (or any other ghost reality show), but whenever I flip past an episode, I always stop for a moment just to see if they are investigating anywhere cool. And my jaw dropped when I saw that not only was Ghost Adventures investigating Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, but that they were the first group given permission to film inside the cemetery after dark. How is that possible? And of all TV shows, the first one allowed in is Ghost Adventures?

Let me pause for a moment to publicly announce that I am not trying to turn this into a Ghost Adventures bash-fest. Trust me, I’m still dealing with the emotional scars from the last time I said something less-than-flattering about Zak Bagans and incurred the wrath of GAC–the Ghost Adventures Crew. The point I’m trying to make is that, love or hate the show, everyone would have to agree that if Ghost Adventures is filming an episode, they are going to find something ghostly. And that when they find it, the results are going to be very dramatic and over the top.  I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, merely that I have not seen an episode of Ghost Adventures where they walked away without finding any evidence or they ended up declaring a place not to be haunted.

And that’s what’s got me scratching my head. Why would a location that is clearly trying to keep people out at night and downplay the ghost stories turn around and allow themselves to be featured on a show whose premise is “we find ghosts in the middle of the night”? And right before the height of the Halloween season kicks off and the whole US starts getting ghosts on the brain? They had to realize that once the show ran, hordes of people were going to descend on Bachelor’s Grove and try to sneak in at night–the very thing they are trying to prevent.

Ghost Adventures inside Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery  –via the Travel Channel

Case in point, Ohio University recently revealed that they would be demolishing one of the “haunted” structures at the university-owned Ridges, the former Athens Mental Asylum. They’re knocking down the building that once served as, among other things, the TB Ward, because it has become unsafe to enter and yet people still keep trying to get inside to explore it. And they want it knocked down before Halloween. Translation; we’re erasing this “haunted” building before this year’s influx of Halloween thrill seekers because we’re tired of chasing them off the property.

So could the owners have opened up the cemetery to Ghost Adventures to get themselves more publicity and/or exposure? Doesn’t seem too likely. As I mentioned, Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery is already well-known. Besides, getting more exposure on a ghost reality show, especially one filming at night when the cemetery is closed, would seem to be something the owners would want to avoid at all costs. You could perhaps argue the point that the owners thought the show would debunk all of the ghostly claims. But again, that’s not what Ghost Adventures is about; the show’s more about validating the claims of ghosts. Sure, they might find a rational explanation for a thing or two along the way, but by and large, they’re going to find ghosts. So it’s not like a National Geographic-type documentary was going to take place.

I thought for a moment that maybe Ghost Adventures or their production company threw a massive pile of money at the Forest Reserve to gain access. And while that certainly might have happened, I don’t think money could have been enough to make them break down and let people in, especially since it doesn’t change the fact that thousands of Ghost Adventures fans would be descending on the cemetery as soon as the episode ran, creating the need for even more patrols through the area. I’m sure that would go over real well with all the officers and rangers whose unofficial job is to keep an eye on the cemetery. I mean, just take a look at Sergeant Joe (his last name is never given), one of the only officers to appear on camera during the entire Bachelor’s Grove segment. Doesn’t he look just so happy to be there?

–Via YouTube

Man, if looks could kill! What’s more, that expression never changes during the entire segment, not even when he’s talking to the Ghost Adventures guys:

–via YouTube

See that look he’s giving Zak? That’s Sergeant Joe’s famous “I’ve heard your ghost story a thousand times before. You’re not supposed to be up here at night. Here’s your ticket. Have a nice night” stare.

So riddle me this, Batman: what happened to allow Ghost Adventures night access to Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery? I’m all ears and really look forward to your comments because I’m clueless as to how and why it happened. And please, I’m not interested in making fun out of the show–I’m more interested in your thoughts as to why the cemetery let them in.

———

Read more about the haunted history of Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery at Troy Taylor’s Ghosts of the Prairie, located here.

For everything you ever wanted to know about the history of Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, visit Bachelors Grove Cemetery & Settlement–Research Center.

You can even read a brief overview I did on the cemetery, along with a few pics, at The Ghosts of Ohio page on Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery.

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27 thoughts on “What Magical Spell Did Ghost Adventures Cast Over Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery?

    • I’m leaning towards “money”, too, Sharon. But it just seems like it would have needed to be an enormous sum of money. If you talk to any of the people that have to patrol the area, while some find it interesting in the beginning, they all grow weary of the continuous stream of people trying to sneak up there at night. And that was before it ran on Ghost Adventures–a national TV show with an extremely rabid fan base.

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      • Before commenting further, I have to ask — did the authorities kick the crew out of the cemetary? And if so, did they only show up toward the end of episode, allowing enough time for ghostly hi-jinks to ensue?

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    • As a retired officer If any “Law Enforcement Department” used “8 officers” as indicated on the show to cover the “Perimeter” at the expense of the public whoever authorized it should be fired .
      Misuse of department personal and budget. And then after firing him or her they show be called an idiot because that’s what they are. Allow the show is one thing. Misuse of officers , if they are is a joke.

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  1. Kevin, to answer your question; it looks like the authorities knew quite well they were up there, at least the way things were filmed. There was a brief discussion with Sergeant Joe at the entrance to the blocked-off path that leads to the cemetery. If you click on either of the “via youtube” links under the screen grabs of Sergeant Joe, you can watch the entire episode.

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    • jcave, I think you hit on the most intriguing angle to all of this! If you look at a lot of the “most haunted” places out there, most of them have gone the route of creating ghost tours/hunts–allows them to sort of cash in on the ghost craze as well as satisfy the curiosity of those who want to sneak a peek at a haunted location. But I did a bit of digging and was unable to find any sort of ghost-related tour or hunt related to Bachelor’s Grove. Doesn’t mean one’s not in the works, though. So you’ve got the best answer so far! Thanks for sharing!

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    • If everyone had watched the whole episode they talked to the owner to get permission. It’s not just the cemetery that’s haunted, the woods themselves have red orbs if they are orbs and no they were not to happy about it. They will always get permission first.

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      • Denise, thanks for the note. I don’t think anyone is doubting the fact that GA got permission to film out there. Rather, why, of all the groups and television shows that have sought permission over the years, GA was the first one allowed access.

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  2. Huge fan base, Zac being from IL, a feature on the Travel Channel, all kinds of expensive equipment., a hell of a spokesman, reputations from past investigations, and the list goes on..but my biggest betis on the cash..what other group can afford to drop as much money as they can?

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    • missd, you make very valid points. But they’re also the very reasons why I would have thought Bachelor’s Grove would NOT have wanted Ghost Adventures up there. Put it this way; if Bachelor’s Grove is trying to keep people out and downplay that they might be haunted, then why bring in a group of ghost hunters that have a national TV show and a huge fan base?

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  3. Possibly for them to be on tv but it doesn’t make sense if they don’t want visitors on their land. Maybe they were hoping the ‘ghost hunters’ didn’t find any evidence so people would stop trying to investigate the cemetary? Or maybe someone in the group knew/is related to the cemetary owners, cops, mayor?

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    • Lucie1995, I pondered the whole “maybe they won’t find anything” angle, too, but ultimately abandoned it. For me, I think if they were looking for a show to debunk the claims, they would have gone with a show like “Faked Or Faked: Paranormal Files” or one where there’s more of a chance that they wouldn’t find a ghost. Ghost Adventures finds “evidence” of ghosts on the vast majority of their hunts.

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      • I think JCave is on the money (as in it’s all about the cash). Rather than employ tax payer manpower to keep folks away, they could be looking to create an organized attraction that allows folks to pay for their curiosity and the parks department to turn a nifty profit.

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  4. Having lived here all my life and been to BG many times here is my take on it. The forest preserve is county owned and cook county is one of if not the most political county in the nation. Cook county is always trying to bring TV and Movies to Chicago, they have a whole agency that recruits TV and movies. Even though they are not thrilled about having BG filmed I am sure the commitment was made to bring other shows and film to the area. Chicago invented the “you wash my back I’ll wash yours” mentality.

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    • Chuck, thanks for the insight from “a local.” As you’ve probably read, most of my readers are leaning towards “money” being the primary motive–just couldn’t figure out the reason behind them accepting the money after all this time. So I think you might have hit on something. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I write books about Chicago Ghosts and have been doings this stuff for a few decaes now. Jeff Belanger, the location scout and writer for Ghost Adventures, contacted me last spring asking about Bachelors Grove. We have been friends for a number of years, and I honestly told him it was unlikely that the crew would be allowed in, but gave him all the contact information for the county real estate office and wished him luck. Yes, money was involved, but it wasn’t THAT much money. The crew had to have several police officers on the scene, which also had to be paid for, and 143rd street was closed down during the filming to get rid of the annoying noise from the road. As someone who knows not all the details about this, but the general story, I would bet it was Jeff’s mediation and salesmanship skills that got the gig. Either that or one of the county staff members has a daughter with a crush on Zak.
    If you want to see more of Jeff Belanger’s work, you can find him hosting 30 Odd Minutes each week on the internet, check out GhostVillage.com (his clearinghouse website of paranormal info), and of course, watch Ghost Adventures. Jeff’s a great guy. I was tickled that the Ghost Adventures gang was able to spend a night at our favorite cemetery. As for public tours through the cemetery, no money may be exchanged on county property, and no commercial industry may be conducted. We’ve offered numerous times to work as free docents to take people around the cemetery, but the county does not seem interested at this time. You can, however, usually find an enthusiastic fan most nice days who will show you around. For Facebookers: http://www.facebook.com/bachelorsgroveforever is me; also my pal Karl at http://www.facebook.com/thepathtobachelors grove. Hope to see you all out at the Grove ❤

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    • Ursula,

      Thanks for the note! And I’ve actually been on some of your tours back in the day…including one that went out to Bachelors Grove. Of course, it chose to snow that day, which made for quite the memorable experience!

      Thanks also for the insight about how GA might have gotten out there. Makes total sense. However, given the sad condition of the Grove, due largely to people sneaking out there and vandalizing it, it still seems odd that they would give permission to a show as popular as GA to go out there. I would think they had to consider the amount of publicity it would get, which would no doubt give rise to more trespassing. But I could be wrong.

      Thanks again for the note. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back out there and on another one of your tours soon…when it’s sunny out, though! : )

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  6. I believe If a place has spirits they are there during the day as well as a night….night investigations make for better t.v. ratings . We as the living most are more comfortable during the day in such places..so I would say those on the other side are more comfortable at night…and that may be because the majority of people are more open at night to receive them.

    I’m in agreement to the money thing or the possible future movie venue…however has any personnel changed within the Forest Perserve that could also have something to do with the sudden change of restrictions?
    Maybe the public tour thing is something you should check into and get your name or the teams that you know to “throw their hat in the ring” so to speak.If by letting in Ghost Adventures is a precursor to possible public tours who better then the people or teams that have been investigatiing this cemetary for years.

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  7. I know this reply is coming at you a year and some change later, but S03 E07: Execution Rocks Lighthouse was one of the few places where nothing dramatic happened. (kind of boring actually). In the end credits, Zak states they “could neither confirm nor deny if the location was haunted, as evidence was inconclusive”. Also, big thank you to you & your blog. I was recently thinking “which GA episode do they go into some cemetery that’s damn near in the middle of the woods” and this answers my question. I’ll soon be subscribing to your blog.

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    • Welcome to my strange and spooky world! Glad it could help answer your question!

      And I did see how recent episode of GA have been toned down a bit. I guess my only fear would be that they have already established themselves as a show where “crazy stuff happens”. If they continue their new trend, my guess is that their ratings are going to fall. But we’ll see.

      Either way, welcome aboard!

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  8. Im so jealous of the GAC for being able to investigate this place. Once, several friends and I tried sneaking in around midnight and were stopped by the Forest preserve officers. Thank god they didnt ticket us and just told us to “give up this stupid interest and go the **** home”. But i do have to say as an avid fan of the show, and someone who has a lot of interest in the Bachelors Grove Cemetary, that they didnt dedicate that episode to just the cemetary. The friends I went with have snuck in before, and have gotten a whole bunch of unexplained anomolies (such as EVP’s, unexoplained mists, apparitions, and noises that would start 50 feet in front of them zoom around in a circle, with them being at the center, and going behind them). I believe the GAC should do what they did with the Trans-Allegany Hospital, but do a 24 hour coverage on the cemetary. Also if they could tell us how they convinced the forest preserve sheriffs to let them investigate so other people could too, that would be awesome

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  9. Your jealousy of the Ghost Adventures crew is just a little past obvious!I have seen a couple of episodes where they found very little.The truth is that if anybody goes to a haunted site they have a good chance of getting evidence with good equipment,and GA has the best.My son is an amateur but every time he has gone to a famous site (like a hotel in Jefferson,Texas or the Myrtle Plantation in Louisiana) he has returned with at least an evp or pics of orbs.Why didn’t you mention Ghost Hunters??They are the biggest joke and I can’t sit through 10 minutes of their boring crap.Anyway,I sure hate to hear grown men whine.And anybody knows that money talks.If you stick enough money in someone’s face they will sell their own mother out.And I’m sure they thought that there might be a Part II and $$$$$!

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    • Larry, thank you for the note. Although, to be honest, I’m not sure what point you were trying to make. You’re kind of all over the place.
      I get that you felt the need to start off with a swipe at me. Fair enough. But from there, you just sort of ramble, although you did make sure to wrap it all up with another jab at me.
      The question I am raising with this article is how a TV show that is as over the top as Ghost Adventures is was able to become the first ones granted access to Bachelors Grove–a location that for decades had denied access to virtually everyone and have repeatedly tried to downplay the ghost stories. Ghost Hunters wasn’t mentioned in the article for the simple reason that this was about how Ghost Adventures managed to get in, not any other groups.
      As for how Ghost Adventures managed to get access, I think you hit the nail on the head with your last sentence. At least I think you did. Like I mentioned, your Comments are all over the place
      But when all is said and done, what I wrote stirred enough emotion inside you that you decided to post a comment. And that means the world to bloggers. So I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to write.

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