Saturday, July 11, 2009
The story as told at prairieghosts.com is "According to local legend, Inez died in 1880 at the tender age of only six. Tradition has it that she was killed during a lightning storm while on a family picnic. Her parents, stunned by the tragic loss, commissioned a life-size statue of the girl to be placed on her grave. It was completed a year later, and like many Chicago area grave sculptures, was placed in a glass box to protect it from the elements. The image remains in nearly perfect condition today. Even in death, Inez still manages to charm cemetery visitors, who discover the little girl perched on a small stool. The likeness was cast so that Inez is seen wearing her favorite dress and carrying a tiny parasol. The perfectly formed face was created with just the hint of a smile. It is not uncommon to come to the cemetery and find gifts of flowers and toys at the foot of her grave. The site has become one of the most popular places in the cemetery, for graveyard buffs and curiosity seekers alike.
The stories say that the area around Inez Clarke's resting place is haunted. Not only are their stories of strange sounds heard nearby, but some claim the statue of Inez actually moves under its own power. The most disconcerting stories may be those of the disembodied weeping that is heard nearby but the most famous tales are those of the statue itself. It is said that Inez will sometimes vanish from inside of the glass box. This is said to take place during violent thunderstorms. Many years ago, a night watchman for the Pinkerton agency allegedly stated that he was making his rounds one night during a storm and discovered that the box that holds Inez was empty. He left the cemetery that night, never to return. Other guards have also reported it missing, only to find it back in place when they pass by again, or the following morning.
There are other tales that claim visitors to Graceland spot a little girl playing in the cemetery. In other cases, children who accompany their parents to the burial ground have stated that they have met a little girl wearing old-fashioned clothes playing near the monument.
Of course, there is only one problem with these stories and accounts --- no one named Inez Clarke is even buried in Graceland Cemetery! According to cemetery expert Al Walavich (as reported in the Chicago Sun-Times), there might have never been an Inez Clarke at all! One thing that he can state for sure: "Based on cemetery records there's no such person buried in that grave". He has also looked up U.S. Census records from the time and has found no indication that the child even existed."
The statue of Inez remains a mystery, but I did make a point to see it anyway, and get out of the warm car to photograph it. It was about 19 degrees that day.