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What makes the story of “Resurrection Mary” so compelling to folklorists and other historians is the sheer number of documented credible eyewitness sightings of this very mysterious ghost, spanning decades.

It is said that on one winter evening in the late 1930’s, Mary, a young girl with blond hair and blue eyes, was at dance with her boyfriend at the O Henry Ballroom, (now known as the Willowbrook Ballroom) in Justice, IL a southern suburb of Chicago. Mary and her date got into a quarrel, so she decided to walk home. While walking on the side of the road, she was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver. She was was later buried in Resurrection Cemetery.

The most credible and highly documented of all “Resurrection Mary” encounters was that of Jerry Palus, a local Chicagoan. Sometime around 1939, Jerry was at a dance at the O Henry Ballroom when he asked this young woman to dance. She accepted and they spent several hours together. Strangely though, she seemed a little distant and Palus also noticed that her skin was very cold, almost icy to the touch. When he later kissed her, he found her lips were also cold and clammy.

At the end of the evening, the young woman asked Palus for a ride home and when they got to his automobile, she directed him to drive down Archer Avenue. Palus admitted to being confused. Earlier in the evening, she told him where she lived and that was in the opposite direction.

As they drove down the street, they approached the gates to Resurrection Cemetery and she asked him to pull over. She had to get out here, she told him. Again, Jerry was confused, not being able to understand why she would want to get out at such a spot. He agreed that he would let her out, but only if she allowed him to walk her across the street. She refused to allow this though. The beautiful girl turned in her seat and faced Palus. “This is where I have to get out,” she spoke softly, “but where I’m going, you can’t follow.”

Palus was bewildered by this statement, but before he could respond, the girl got out of the car and ran toward the cemetery gates. She vanished before she reached them – right before Jerry’s eyes! That was the moment when he knew that he had danced with a specter (Jerry’s story was part of an Unsolved Mysteries segment in the 1990’s).

Many have come up with their own interesting speculations in attempts to answer that question of “Who Is Mary” and perhaps we will never really know for sure or why she haunts Archer Avenue. But the fact remains, a beautiful young lady dressed in white named “Mary” lives on in urban legend and perhaps satisfaction comes in just leaving her remain as an enigma.
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