A flagpole with an American flag, flanked by trees, in a cemetery on an overcast autumn day.
A flagpole with an American flag, flanked by trees, in a cemetery on an overcast autumn day.
Pleasant Hill Cemetery: A pioneer cemetery of DuPage County, Illinois.

Officially established in 1845, the one-acre Pleasant Hill Cemetery is the final resting place of veterans of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.


A large lake with a tree lined shore at sunset.
A large lake with a tree lined shore at sunset.
Maple Lake at sunset.

For decades, visitors to Maple Lake in southwest suburban Chicago have reported seeing ghostly lights over the lake. Whether the lights are centered over the lake itself or along the shoreline is unclear, as is the source of the lights: natural phenomena such as bioluminescence or something more supernatural. The latter is lent credence by the lake’s long history of drownings and violence and murder on and near its shores.


A view where one is looking up from the base of a hill at a classic church with steeple. Trees and graves line the hill.
A view where one is looking up from the base of a hill at a classic church with steeple. Trees and graves line the hill.
A view of St. James at Sag Bridge Church from the hilly churchyard.

St. James at Sag Bridge Church is a historic Roman Catholic church in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. The church overlooks a glacial valley and its vantage point was once used by Native Americans as a lookout and, later, by the French as a fort.


A path through wooded brush backlit by the sun; one of the mounds is slightly visible beneath underbrush to the left.
A path through wooded brush backlit by the sun; one of the mounds is slightly visible beneath underbrush to the left.
The Winfield Mounds.

The Winfield Mounds are prehistoric effigy mounds constructed by indigenous tribes. Dated to the late woodland period (350–1300 CE), effigy mounds are earthworks around three to seven feet high; most were formed in the shapes of animals with spiritual significance, but the Winfield Mounds are round. The Winfield Mounds were destroyed and disfigured by vandals in the early 20th century, then archaeologists recovered human remains and artifacts from the mounds in the 1930s and 1970s before reconstructing them for historical purposes.


A gothic castle-like limestone structure with turrets and a gloomy sky.
A gothic castle-like limestone structure with turrets and a gloomy sky.
The circa-1858 building at the old Joliet Correctional Center.

Paranormal experiences during photo shoots are rare — perhaps my focus on getting the shot closes me off to experiences — but the old Joliet Correctional Center was an exception. There, I experienced a terror I had never felt before, even during past encounters with negative entities.

Built in 1858, a limestone structure that evokes a medieval castle is the prison’s oldest building. The building’s limestone blocks were excavated from a nearby limestone quarry by prisoners. The building’s familiar style is credited to architect William Warren Boyington, who also designed the iconic Chicago Water Tower and pumping station, and the…


The stone monument of Julia Buccola Petta, which shows a bride in a sweeping dress holding a bouquet of flowers.
The stone monument of Julia Buccola Petta, which shows a bride in a sweeping dress holding a bouquet of flowers.
The monument of Julia Buccola Petta at Mount Carmel Cemetery.

Ceramic tombstone portraits began their rise in popularity in the late 19th century. Most feature subjects that were alive at the time of the portrait; rarer are post-mortem portraits taken with recently deceased subjects posed as if still alive.

Julia Buccola Petta — also known as “the Italian Bride” — may be the only person whose tombstone portrait was taken six years after her death. Petta died during childbirth in 1921 and was buried in her wedding gown. Years after Petta’s internment, her mother, Filomena Buccola, began having nightmares about her daughter being buried alive. Buccola secured the necessary permissions…


A cemetery with old gravestones and a pine tree.
A cemetery with old gravestones and a pine tree.
St. Omer Cemetery in Coles County, Illinois.

The entire village of St. Omer in Coles County, Illinois is dead. Established in 1852, by the mid-1880s, the tiny town was gone, its residents either interred for eternity at St. Omer Cemetery or relocated in pursuit of better economic opportunities.


A metal plaque lays on a concrete walkway.
A metal plaque lays on a concrete walkway.
A plaque at Read Dunning Memorial Park commemorates victims of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

The Chicagoland winds kicked up the evening of October 8, 1871. Fueled by drought conditions, gusting winds, an abundance of wooden structures citywide, and an under-staffed city fire department, a fire at the O’Leary family barn in southwest Chicago quickly spread northeast through the city center and north side. Burning for 36 hours, the fire destroyed three and a half square miles of city property, including 17,500 buildings and over 70 miles of roads. One-third of Chicago’s 300,000 citizens were left homeless. An estimated 300 people perished in the fire but only 120 bodies were retrieved, 117 of those unidentified.


The Lake County Poor Farm Cemetery
The Lake County Poor Farm Cemetery
The Lake County Poor Farm Cemetery in Libertyville, Illinois.

How well do you know the history of the land you grew up on? Do you know if the soil beneath your young feet was once tilled or grazed? Do you know if the nearby pond was an old rock quarry that settlers used to construct buildings and fencing on the land that raised you?

Do you know if the dead lay buried deep and forgotten in the dirt below as you played above?


Heidi with Brewsky.

Heidi Carpenter is a photographer, writer, and student of metaphysics. Heidi lives in the western suburbs of Chicago with her husband and senior cats, and her horse — also a senior — boarded at a nearby stable.

Heidi has a bachelor’s degree in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago. She is the publisher and editor of Chicagoland Haunts.

Follow Heidi on Instagram here.

Email Heidi at carpenter.heidi@gmail.com

Heidi E. Carpenter

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