Chicago streets harbor lost stories: It’s time to update those tired old ghostly tales

By ROGER MARSH

Move over Resurrection Mary. Ghosts from Chicago’s forgotten past are dying to bump known regulars off the list of haunted streets, cemeteries, bars and historical buildings. Maybe it’s time for a change.

Chicagoans looking for fresh stories need look no further than the streets of their own neighborhood if the formula for haunted tales consists mainly of places where people died a violent death, were laid to rest, or simply lived out their lives.

Vanishing hitchhiker Resurrection Mary is still stepping into cars along Archer Avenue in the vicinity of Resurrection Cemetery. Stories suggest she was killed while hitchhiking along Archer Avenue in the 1930s after an evening of dance at the O. Henry Ballroom and an argument with her boyfriend.

Chicago’s regular ghostly cast includes Mrs. Charles Hull and her appearances at Jane Addams’ Hull House. The shadow of a hanging man may be seen in an upstairs window of the historic Water Tower. The “Gray Lady” is a rumored guest at Oprah Winfrey’s studios as the building briefly housed some of the dead from the Eastland disaster of 1915 along the Chicago River. Clarence Darrow might be glimpsed on the back steps of the Museum of Science and Industry or crossing the Jackson Park Lagoon along the Clarence Darrow Memorial Bridge. Your choice.

These stories are retold year after year. But what about the many thousands of sites where violent deaths have occurred all across the city? A metropolis as large as Chicago holds many forgotten bloody moments, and with a complete history in hand, it would be difficult to walk most anywhere in the city and not be standing in a spot that was once violent or briefly shrouded in panic or misery.

On a trip along Lincoln Avenue from its northern-most point and moving south to the edge of downtown – a time traveler might witness these selected events pulled from the Chicago Historical Homicide Project that has recorded more than 11,000 of the city’s police reports between 1870 and 1930. Other reports were pulled from published newspaper accounts. So who knows, maybe we have the making for bigger and better ghost stories, but we just don’t know who or how someone took their last breath on our block.

On the evening of June 27, 1928, John Bradley, 23, and Nellie Flynn, were parked near Lincoln Avenue at Richmond, directly across the street from the front door of what is now Mather High School. A bullet suddenly hit Bradley in the back while no one was in sight around the couple. A frantic drive to Swedish Hospital would end two blocks later as the wounded man slumped over. He died shortly after. Police arrested a Virginia Avenue man that neighbors called a “crank” who fired a rifle from a home window at “spooners near his home.”

Stopping now in the block spanning 5100 to 5200 North Lincoln Avenue, three fatal stabbings and a violent suicide are candidates for new ghostly tales, although separated by 17 years.

  • The Winona intersection, at 5200 north, was the scene on June 15, 1922, of Alex Biakasz’s fatal stabbing. The 33-year-old got into a street fight with Tony Bruzak, who was later indicted for felony murder.
  • A few steps south of Winona on the east side of the street, 24-year-old Jacob Winnoccki was stabbed to death inside a residence at 5145 N. Lincoln on April 24, 1911. The recorded “unintentional killing” at the hands of Anton Hocek went unsolved once Hocek quickly disappeared after the killing and was not heard from again.
  • The next intersection at Lincoln and Carmen where The Magic Shop now stands, 19-year-old Lizzie Koschall got off a streetcar and was stabbed to death November 18, 1905, by Edward Rothhoupt who apparently could not accept the woman’s rejection. After murdering the young lady, Rothhoupt turned a gun on himself and took his own life next to Lizzie in the street.
  • Hoping to make the tavern at 5053 N. Lincoln their 76th robbery, two men walked in the door September 22, 1956, but were subdued by bar patrons. One of the robbers, Kenneth Schultz, was pinned on the bar floor, but still opened fire. Schultz killed Glen Denny, 22, of 3940 Lyons Avenue, Skokie, and wounded two others.
  • The intersection of Lincoln and Lawrence Avenue was the scene of a fatal car accident on January 25, 1928. James Brady, 30, died at the scene. No charges were filed against the other driver, Walter Ulrich, or his passenger Ray Riggin.
  • A few steps south, one of four Chicago murders reported on April 14, 1930 occurred at a physician’s office at 4779 N. Lincoln. Dr. Hans Paulsen apparently botched an abortion he was performing on Ethel Crowell, 20. While the investigation uncovered the fact that Ethel and Dr. Paulsen were intimately acquainted, the felony murder indictment against him was dropped two weeks later.
  • A murder-suicide occurred in the street outside 4220 N. Lincoln on September 11, 1921. Arthur Ruth shot and killed his “sweetheart,” Charlotte Gustafson, 27, and then turned the gun on himself. Police stated the motive was jealousy.
  • Willard Grace, 53, was a watchman on June 11, 1927, when two men tried to rob a business he was guarding at 4017 N. Lincoln. Grace died on the street at 11:35 p.m. as he tried unsuccessfully to stop the two bandits. Milton Hopewell was arrested for the crime, but was discharged on June 28.
  • Dr. Nathaniel H. Schaffner, 53, was sent away for his third prison term – this time for 14 years – for the abortion operation that killed Emma Laisure, 27, on July 7, 1941, in the doctor’s office at 4009 N. Lincoln.
  • Gabriel Guttersrud, 32, was sitting inside his milk truck at 3827 N. Lincoln on July 18, 1926, when it was struck from behind by a car driven by Joseph Fordon with passengers Steve Kerwin and Elmer Bowersex. Guttersrud died at the scene. No charges were recorded.
  • Mrs. H. Fulde, 25, was fatally injured at Lincoln and Grace streets on December 1, 1912, by an automobile driven by Emi M. Julius. Julius was indicted for felony murder.
  • Thomas Downey, 31, attempted to rob the wrong guy at 12:20 a.m. at Lincoln and Addison on October 8, 1927. The victim was patrolman William Drury, who shot Downey dead in the street. No charges were recorded.
  • William Kordig, 16, was riding his motorcycle on August 11, 1917, when he was struck by an automobile in front of 3536 N. Lincoln. Kordig died at the scene. The Grand Jury recommended an indictment for felony murder against the driver of the car, Joseph Hadad, but no charges were ever filed.
  • Walter Masterson, 24, was fatally stabbed inside a saloon at 3415 N. Lincoln during a fight with Edward Barrett on February 9, 1913. Barrett was charged with murder and sentenced to Joliet Penitentiary. Henry Barrett, most likely Edward’s brother, was charged with accessory, but was not sentenced.
  • A double homicide occurred in the alley behind 3339 N. Lincoln on July 6, 1919. Nicholas Cecola, 25, and Nicholas Patti, 27, were both shot and killed by an unknown person who escaped the scene.
  • Two couples and a fifth accomplice were questioned for the killing of Edward Lehman, 18, in the street behind 3051 N. Lincoln during a robbery attempt at the Delson Knitting Works on November 4, 1923. Lehman and night watchman Al Stemwedel discovered thieves forcing their way into the building at 4:50 a.m. Walter Bockelman and Ethel Beck made spectacular headlines especially since police suspected a woman was involved. Otto Malm later confessed to the crime and implicated his common-law wife Katherine, as well as the driver, Eric Noren. The pair received life sentences for this crime, and Noren got off with 14 years at Joliet Penitentiary.
  • Attorney Morton Rubin, 34, of 825 Brown Street, Evanston, was killed in a vacant storefront at 2616 N. Lincoln on June 30, 1958. Police arrested Robert Bodinof, 57, of 2009 Point Street, for the crime.
  • A saloon at 2580 N. Lincoln was the scene of a fight turned deadly on March 10, 1921. James Doyle claimed he was protecting himself when he killed Michael Prenty inside the drinking establishment. Doyle was arrested April 3 and later acquitted.
  • FBI fugitive John Dillinger was gunned down by federal agents in an alley adjacent to the Biograph Theater, 2433-43 N. Lincoln on July 22, 1934. Dillinger had just watched Manhatten Melodrama with girlfriend Polly Hamilton and brothel owner Ana Cumpanas.
  • Five-year-old Adam Phillips was hit by an unidentified car and killed at Lincoln and Belden avenues on November 11, 1920. The hit-and-run driver did not stop.
  • Police arrived at the intersection of Lincoln and Belden at 1 a.m. on October 25, 1921, and discovered John Thompson, 26, alive but suffering from stab wounds to the neck. Thompson would not reveal the name of his assailant and soon died on the street. Charles Lucaccito (alias Luca) was investigated for the crime, but there is no record he was indicted.
  • A third floor apartment at 2122 N. Lincoln was the scene of Virginia Zitzis’ death on May 26, 1928. At 9:40 p.m. Virginia’s estranged husband, Charles Zitzis, shot her to death. While the coroner is on record as recommending an investigation, no charges appear to have been filed.
  • Frank Braun laid in the street dead most of the night on January 15, 1926 at Lincoln and Webster. He was discovered by police at 4:50 a.m., apparently the victim of a hit and run driver. No charges were ever recorded.
  • A coroner’s jury ruled that on Saturday, October 20, 1956, Henry Johnson, 34, shot and killed his wife in their apartment at 2031 N. Lincoln, and then turned the gun on himself in this murder-suicide.

The Chicago Historical Homicide Project is on the web at homicide.northwestern.edu. The interactive database allows users to search in various ways, including by specific address, street name, date, type of offense, or victim or defendant’s name. Surely Chicago is being haunted at more than one of these 11,000 locations so that we can put Resurrection Mary to rest. Inputting merely “Lincoln” in the street request area pulls up 76 cases of murder and mayhem.

Many reports have a starter summation where some key words are not included in the database search – like the fact that there was an unsolved double murder during the construction of Lane Tech High School, intersection of Western and Addison avenues. You cannot search on Lane Tech High School, but the item surfaces under a search for Western or Addison.

Chicago is rich in unsolved mysteries, murder-suicides, murders by beating, stabbing and gunshot, and deadly car accidents or hit-and-runs. Tired of hearing the same stories every Halloween? Did you hear the one about poor Lizzie at Lincoln and Carmen? Some say you can still see the woman stepping off a streetcar and screaming on a full moon.

Roger Marsh is a paranormal writer and content producer.

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