Visiting Spooky Chicago Cemeteries: Part 2

In Part 1 of this two-part blog post, we talked about some reasons why a visit to Chicago cemeteries can be a great way to connect with the city and its history. Now let’s really talk about the spooky stuff.

Chicago Cemeteries creepy halloweenYou probably know that we do cultural tours of Chicago, and so ghost stories aren’t exactly our angle on Chicago architecture and history. However I do have some creepy photographs to share with you!

Mount Caramel Cemetary and Gangsters

Mount Carmel Cemetery has graves of many Chicago gangsters, like Al Capone and the Genna family. The six Genna brothers made a luxurious living out of bootlegging and other crimes during the Prohibition Era. Two of the brothers, Peter and Sam just had regular names. But you gotta love the ones with nick names: “Bloody” Angelo, Antonio “The Gentleman,” Mike “The Devil,” and my favorite – Vincenzo a.k.a “Jim.”

mausoleum Chicago Cemeteries history gangster graveDoesn’t look so creepy, right? Oh, but peek inside…

inside mausoleum Chicago Cemeteries gennaDo you see that light flare at the top of the image? That just might be Jim’s ghost begging for moonshine from the grave!

The Italian Bride

Okay, jokes aside, I do have a creepy story. Have you heard of the “Italian bride”? Julia Buccola married in 1921 and nine months later died during childbirth to a stillborn baby. A few years later her widower remarried and her family moved out to California. It seems like the everyone had moved on, but her mother started having nightmares. She dreamt that Julia was buried alive and begging to be freed from her grave. I’ve spent a lot of time in Sicily, where the Buccola family hailed from, and this sounds exactly like the dark stuff of Sicilian folktales actually (such as the creepy Christmas witch)!

La Mamma returned to Chicago to investigate, and from there the facts of the story get muddy. No one really knows how, but she was able to exhume Julia’s grave despite six years passing. The story is that when they opened the casket they discovered a perfectly preserved body.

Buccola Grave Chicago Cemeteries HistoryIn Italian the grave says, “This photo taken six years after death.” Ignore the splotch on the upper part of the photo and you can make out that it is a woman lying in a casket. A giant monument was erected in her honor, to the dismay of Papá Buccola, and eventually Julia’s mother joined her daughter in repose. Creepy stuff!

–Amanda Scotese, Executive Director


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Private Tour Coordinator and Tour Guide

There is no shortage of things to discover in Chicago—I love being an urban explorer and uncovering its hidden places. I have an MA in Public History from Loyola University Chicago, and I have worked as a museum educator and kindergarten teacher. My desire to learn new things fuels my passion for educating others, which I get to experience every day as a Chicago tour guide. I live in the northern neighborhood of Rogers Park.

“Our guide Ellen was exceptional and gifted with a great personal touch.”


Tour Guide

Whether you are a first-time visitor or a lifelong resident, the vibrant history and modern majesty of Chicago never ceases to amaze. I’m a graduate of Columbia College with an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art. I’ve worked for many years as an educator at City Colleges of Chicago. As tour guide at Chicago Detours, I integrate my enthusiasm for culture and architecture with my passion as an educator. West Town/Noble Square area is home for me.

“Jen was a perfect storyteller and kept us spellbound for hours.”


Tour Guide

With our Chicago neighborhoods, vibrant cultural institutions and nearly two centuries of larger-than-life stories, there’s never a dull moment here! I’m a fifth generation Chicagoan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to guiding tours, I’m a creative writer and amateur genealogist. I also enjoy the city’s dynamic theater scene. You can also read overlooked stories from 19th-century newspapers on my “Second Glance History” blog. I live in River North.


Tour Guide

Chicago is unique as it always evolves into the future while holding on to the past. I’m fascinated by how people latch on to old architecture but happily pave over others. My background is in theater and performance and I’ve been a tour guide here for more than 10 years. Currently I’m finishing my Master’s in Public History at Loyola University because I love to teach the history of this scrappy city. I’m in the Edgewater neighborhood.


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

Chicago’s history is so fascinating, you could spend a lifetime uncovering its secrets…I’m willing to give it a try! I have an M.A. in US History from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas and then pursued doctoral studies in Urban History at the University of Illinois at Chicago. I love to learn new aspects of Chicago’s rich history and then share my knowledge as a tour guide with Chicago Detours. I live in Ravenswood.

“Marie was a bubbling fountain of information and contagious enthusiasm.”


Operations Coordinator and Tour Guide

As a fourth generation Chicagoan, I have been living and loving Chicago by bike, on foot, public transit or automobile. I am a graduate of UIC where through the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs, began my eagerness to understand the nature, history and impacts of urban planning and development. It is incredibly rewarding to give back to this wonderful city by helping out in the office of Chicago Detours. I live in the incredibly diverse neighborhood of Albany Park.
“Sonny was extremely knowledgeable about all things Chi-town.”
Wade K


Content Manager and Tour Guide

Chicago has so many neighborhoods, buildings, and by-ways that it’s hard to go long without seeing something new, or something familiar from a new angle. I studied Cinema History for my M.A. from the University of Chicago. I’ve worked as a culture writer for various publications and as an educator of the humanities at the City Colleges of Chicago. I’m thrilled to share my love of this city’s busy past and unique architectural spaces with Chicago Detours. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of Lincoln Park.

“Alex was fascinating to listen to. He clearly knows his history and it shows.”
Katie K

Amanda Scotese

Executive Director and Tour Guide

I’m an interpreter of personal stories from the past and the city’s landscape. I love to imagine what originally happened inside old unmarked buildings, and what forces have shaped their design. I studied Chicago history, architectural history, and anything Chicago-related through my M.A. in the Humanities at the University of Chicago. My love for stories was enriched by my B.A. in Literature from the University of Michigan. I’ve written travel articles for publications like Rick Steves’ Italy best-selling travel guides, the San Francisco Bay Guardian, and The Chicago Food Encyclopedia. I live in the Chicago neighborhood of West Avondale.
“You can TELL Amanda is hyper-passionate about doing the research and getting the story that nobody’s heard before.”
Shelby F

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