The St. James-Sag Cemetery was an Indian burial ground and a French signal fort before it officially became a cemetery in 1837. There were burials here before it officially became a cemetery, making it the Chicago area’s oldest existing ossuary. Its name is derived from the St. James Church, a small church on the cemetery grounds and for its location near the Calumet Sag Channel which is a waterway that was dug by Irish workers along the heavily wooded roadway which is now known as Archer Road.
This place has had some pretty frightening occurrences. Back in the day, people used to visit this cemetery at night to hear the Sobbing Woman, a filmy form said to wander among the trees.
The most frightening thing reported by the local residents and has made them grow more and more uncomfortable, is run-ins with a driverless old-fashioned hearse made out of black oak and pulled by a team of mad horses. Residents in this area have been testifying to this disturbing apparition for years, reporting that it is seen along Archer Avenue between resurrection and St. James-Sag Cemeteries. The hearse made out of black oak and glass apparently contains a luminous casket of a child. As one book writes, “Its horses hurl the carriage through the darkness with the panting of creatures trying to escape hell itself.” If I were to see that, a possible moistening of the undergarments may occur.
Another supernatural occurrence has been reported since 1847. It is claimed that phantom monks were seen gliding up the bluff along Archer Avenue near the intersection of the Sanitary and Ship Canal, the I & M canal, and the Cal-Sag Channel. In November 1977, a Cook County sheriff was passing the grounds about 2:30 in the morning and saw eight hooded figures floating from the woods and moving towards the rectory. He ran after them thinking they were vandals. He kept struggling and would get tripped up by the hilly, uneven ground trying to run after them. He fell to the ground and saw them floating past him with no effort to the top of the hill and disappeared into thin air.
The one story that bothers me the most about this place is the one where a pastor of the church in the cemetery claimed to witness the cemetery ground heaving up and down as if it were breathing. If I started to see the ground breathing and there is no natural phenomena like a colony of ants moving the ground and it keeps moving like its breathing, I’m out of there like a bat out of hell.
I have been to this place a few times and it is a beautiful little cemetery built on a large hill. It is scenic and quite peaceful. It is a Catholic Cemetery and mass is offered every Sunday. I, luckily have never seen any paranormal activity, but then again, I’ve never visited at night.